Pacemaker in patients undergoing mammography: A limitation for breast cancer diagnosis?

Noam Nissan*, Efi Efraim Moss Massasa, Ethan Bauer, Arsalan Abu-Much, David Samoocha, Yael Yagil, Renata Faermann, Osnat Halshtok-Neiman, Anat Shalmon, Michael Gotlieb, Miri Sklair-Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A pacemaker may affect the utility of a mammogram in several ways. The aim of this study is to summarize our institution's experience with mammograms among patients with a cardiac pacemaker, focusing on the diagnostic workup among patients with a newly diagnosed ipsilateral breast cancer. Methods: A retrospective search of all mammography reports between January 2011 and April 2021 was conducted for identifying cases of patients with a pacemaker. Demographic and clinical characteristics as well as mammography-derived quality parameters and findings were categorized and statistically compared. Results: The incidence of pacemaker concurrence in mammographic examination, although apparently slightly under-documented, accounted for 0.33% of cases. Population mean age was 71.7 years, and most patients (79%) had a left-sided pacemaker. The pacemaker was much more likely to be projected on the medio-lateral-oblique (96%) than on the cranio-caudal view (10%), on the axilla rather than the breast, and on the retro-pectoral rather than the pre-pectoral region (P < 0.001 for all). Compression force decreased by up to 23.0% (P < 0.001) and breast thickness increased by up to 9.5% (P < 0.001) for the ipsilateral vs. the contralateral side. Among 11 patients with newly diagnosed ipsilateral breast cancer, the pacemaker partially projected on the tumour region in two cases, and significantly obscured the tumour in another two. Conclusion: Although rare, the coexistence of a pacemaker in patients undergoing mammography is associated with reduced image quality due to suboptimal breast visualization and reduced compression, and as a result, this may eventually lead to decreased diagnostic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • breast cancer
  • mammography
  • pacemaker


Dive into the research topics of 'Pacemaker in patients undergoing mammography: A limitation for breast cancer diagnosis?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this