Evaluation of smartphone-integrated magnetometers in detection of safe electromagnetic devices for use near programmable shunt valves: a proof-of-concept study

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  • 1 Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital Infantil Universitario Niño Jesús, Madrid, Spain;
  • 2 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; and
  • 3 Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
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OBJECTIVE

External magnetic forces can have an impact on programmable valve mechanisms and potentially alter the opening pressure. As wearable technology has begun to permeate mainstream living, there is a clear need to provide information regarding safety of these devices for use near a programmable valve (PV). The aim of this study was to evaluate the magnetic fields of reference devices using smartphone-integrated magnetometers and compare the results with published shunt tolerances.

METHODS

Five smartphones from different manufacturers were used to evaluate the magnetic properties of various commonly used (n = 6) and newer-generation (n = 10) devices using measurements generated from the internal smartphone magnetometers. PV tolerance testing using calibrated magnets of varying field strengths was also performed by smartphone magnetometers.

RESULTS

All tested smartphone-integrated magnetometers had a factory sensor saturation point at around 5000 µT or 50 Gauss (G). This is well below the threshold at which a magnet can potentially deprogram a shunt, based on manufacturer reports as well as the authors’ experimental data with a threshold of more than 300 G. While many of the devices did saturate the smartphone sensors at the source, the magnetic flux density of the objects decreases significantly at 2 inches.

CONCLUSIONS

The existence of an upper limit on the magnetometers of all the smartphones used, although well below the published deprogramming threshold for modern programmable valves, does not allow us to give precise recommendations on those devices that saturate the sensor. Based on the authors’ experimental data using smartphone-integrated magnetometers, they concluded that devices that measure < 40 G can be used safely close to a PV.

ABBREVIATIONS MF = magnetic field; PV = programmable valve.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Jesse Skoch: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH. jesse.skoch@cchmc.org.

S.K.P. and J.Z.F. contributed equality to this work.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online March 26, 2021; DOI: 10.3171/2020.10.PEDS20727.

Disclosures The authors would like to disclose that, for testing purposes, they graciously received a Strata II valve from Medtronic and a Codman Certas Plus valve from Integra LifeSciences and requested internal company testing data for the respective valves.

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