Certain low-frequency magnetic fields cause interference in implantable medical devices. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standards prescribe injecting voltages into a device under evaluation to simplify testing while approximating or simulating real-world exposure situations to low-frequency magnetic fields. The EMC standard ISO 14117:2012, which covers implantable pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), specifies test levels for the bipolar configuration of sensing leads as being one-tenth of the levels for the unipolar configuration. The committee authoring this standard questioned this testing level difference and its clinical relevance. To evaluate this issue of EMC test levels, we performed both analytical calculations and computational modeling to determine a basis for this difference. Analytical calculations based upon Faraday's law determined the magnetically induced voltage in a 37.6-cm lead. Induced voltages were studied in a bipolar lead configuration with various spacing between a distal tip electrode and a ring electrode. Voltages induced in this bipolar lead configuration were compared with voltages induced in a unipolar lead configuration. Computational modeling of various lead configurations was performed using electromagnetic field simulation software. The two leads that were insulated, except for the distal and proximal tips, were immersed in a saline-conducting media. The leads were parallel and closely spaced to each other along their length. Both analytical calculations and computational modeling support continued use of a one-tenth amplitude reduction for testing pacemakers and ICDs in bipolar mode. The most recent edition of ISO 14117 includes rationale from this study.

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