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Simple hand-held metal detectors are an effective means of detecting cardiac pacemakers in the deceased prior to cremation
  1. Jason Lyle Stone1,
  2. John Williams2,
  3. Lesley Fearn2
  1. 1Department of Histopathology, Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Doncaster, UK
  2. 2Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Doncaster, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jason Lyle Stone, Department of Histopathology, Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Doncaster DN2 5LT, UK; jason.stone{at}


The hazard of undetected cardiac pacemakers exploding in crematoria is well described. This short report describes the use of an affordable hand-held metal detector to detect cardiac pacemakers. Over the course of a year, the metal detector located 100% of cardiac pacemakers in a district general hospital mortuary. A simple model using pigskin and fat is also used to demonstrate the effectiveness in vitro. Commercially purchased hand-held metal detectors should be used in all mortuaries responsible for detection and removal of cardiac pacemakers prior to cremation.

  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • cremation
  • autopsy
  • safety management
  • hazardous substances
  • autopsy pathology
  • forensic pathology
  • safety

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.