IPads and Programmable Shunts January 2012

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iPads and Programmable Shunts

January 2012

Some programmable shunts can be affected by the iPad 2. The Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation, a nationwide organization that focuses on advocating for children with hydrocephalus, has recently learned through personal experience that iPads have strong magnets within them. Where this becomes an issue is for children with programmable shunts that can have their pressure/flow settings adjusted by doctors with magnets. Most parents will know if their child has a programmable shunt, in that after an MRI is performed on them, they have to go visit their neurosurgeon to have the shunt reset because an MRI will change the original setting. Below is a communication from Medtronic's, one of the big manufacturers of shunts. Codman, another shunt manufacturer, has indicated that their shunts don't require magnets as strong as Medtronic's, only 80 gauss for some of their valves to change setting but not all of them are magnetic.

Here is the information from Medtronic:
"On December 9, 2011 we received a question from you regarding the use of an Apple iPad 2 for individuals with an implanted Strata Valve. 
A sample iPad 2 was evaluated for magnetic strength. The left front edge of the iPad 2 was found to have a magnetic strength of 306 Gauss and the rear speaker measured 456 Gauss. The Strata family of valves is designed to be adjusted with a permanent magnet of at least 90 Gauss, directly against the valve. This indicates that the iPad 2 has the potential to affect the Strata Valve setting if the areas having the above measured fields are placed directly adjacent to the implant location of the Strata Valve. Inadvertent adjustments by external magnets are a known complication with adjustable valves. Therefore, the same precautions that are applied to all magnets should also be applied to the iPad 2." 


Serious consequences could arise if a child with a shunt happens to lay his head near or on an ipad, which could change the amount of fluid allowed to flow thru the valve. Shunt failure can cause brain damage or be fatal, over draining causes something called slit ventricle syndrome and can be just as dangerous.

* Note - Medtronics stated that the iPad 2 would have to be within two inches of the shunt to have an effect…. The same goes for all other household magnets (the one on your refrigerator door seal, the ones on the outside of your refrigerator, the Magna Doodle, the cell phone, etc). Only an MRI has a strong enough magnet in it to have an effect at a distance.
More information can be found at:


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