Objectives: To compare magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) in the preoperative evaluation of pediatric cochlear implant candidates.
Methods: The charts of pediatric cochlear implant candidates evaluated between July 1, 2000 and November 30, 2003 with an MRI scan of the inner ear were included in the study. Fifty-six patients were included. Associated HRCT scans were examined. Abnormalities of the cochlea, cochlear nerve, endolymphatic sac, endolymphatic duct, vestibule, and modiolus were noted. A pediatric neuroradiologist gave an opinion as to whether patients with anomalies seen with MRI but without associated HRCT would have been identified by HRCT.
Results: Of the 112 temporal bones imaged with MRI, the following abnormalities were encountered: 32% (36/112) had abnormalities of the cochlear turns, 30% (34/112) had abnormal signal in the modiolus, 23% (26/112) had abnormal vestibulae, 16% (18/112) had abnormal endolymphatic ducts, 15% (17/112) had abnormal endolymphatic sacs, 12% (13/112) had abnormalities of the cochlear nerves, 29% (17/56) had abnormalities of the brain. HRCT cannot directly evaluate the cochlear nerve. Available HRCT findings were combined with radiologic opinion and compared with MRI findings. The percentages of abnormalities identifiable by HRCT when compared with those seen with MRI are cochlea 42% (15/36), modiolus 35% (12/34), vestibulae 88% (23/26), endolymphatic duct 100% (18/18), and endolymphatic sac 6% (1/17).
Conclusion: MRI is more sensitive and specific in diagnosing soft tissue abnormalities in the inner ear than HRCT in cochlear implant candidates (Fig. 4). Moreover, the abnormalities detected with MRI are more likely to influence the implantation process (e.g., asymmetric nerve aplasia, cochlear obstruction). (Figure is included in full-text article).