Safety alert and advice on CT scanning in patients with insulin pumps

The presence of an insulin pump should not preclude an appropriate and medically indicated CT scan, the FDA said.


A safety alert on CT scans and implantable electronic medical devices, such as insulin pumps, was issued by the FDA on April 1.

The presence of these devices should not preclude an appropriate and medically indicated CT scan, the agency said in an update of a 2008 preliminary public health notification. Although there have been a small number of reports of adverse events related to this issue—such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, ketoacidosis, and 1 death among patients with insulin pumps—the FDA maintains that the probability of electronic inference leading to clinically significant adverse events is extremely low.

Interference is completely avoided when a medical device is located outside of the CT scanner's primary X-ray beam, the safety alert noted. If the CT scan will cover the area over the insulin pump, the FDA recommends that the clinician ordering the scan discuss with the patient whether the pump can be safely moved, attached at a different location, or turned off and for how long, or if alternative diabetes management is required. Clinicians should then communicate this information to the facility performing the scan, the FDA said.