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Smruti K. Patel, Jorge Zamorano-Fernández, Carlie McCoy, and Jesse Skoch


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.


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.


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.


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.