Mitral and aortic valve replacement is a procedure which is common in cardiac surgery. Some of these replacement valves are mechanical and contain moving metal parts. Should the patient in whom such a valve has been implanted be involved in magnetic resonance imaging, there is a possible dangerous interaction between the moving metal parts and the static magnetic field due to the Lenz effect. Mathematical models of two relatively common forms of single-leaflet valves have been derived and the magnitude of the torque which opposes the motion of the valve leaflet has been calculated for a valve disc of solid metal. In addition, a differential model of a ring-strengthener valve type has been considered to determine the likely significance of the Lenz effect in the context of the human heart. For common magnetic field strengths at present, i.e. 1 to 2 T, the effect is not particularly significant. However, there is a marked increase in back pressure as static magnetic field strength increases. There are concerns that, since field strengths in the range 3 to 4 T are increasingly being used, the Lenz effect could become significant. At 5 to 10 T the malfunction of the mechanical heart valve could cause the heart to behave as though it is diseased. For unhealthy or old patients this could possibly prove fatal.
Robertson, N., Diaz-Gomez, M., & Condon, B. (2000). Estimation of torque on mechanical heart valves due to magnetic resonance imaging including an estimation of the significance of the Lenz effect using a computational model. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 45(12), . https://doi.org/10.1088/0031-9155/45/12/320