The limitations of computed tomography in adult cochlear implant evaluation

Am J Otolaryngol. 2014 May-Jun;35(3):396-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2014.03.002. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


Objective: To demonstrate the added value of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) over computed tomography (CT) during adult cochlear implant evaluation.

Patients: Two adult patients are discussed in whom MRI studies diagnosed bilateral vestibular schwannomas during cochlear implant candidacy evaluation.

Interventions: Temporal bone CT and MRI.

Main outcome measure: Diagnosis of NF2.

Results: Two adult patients, ages 67 and 68 years, were evaluated for cochlear implant candidacy. Both patients experienced slowly progressive, bilateral hearing loss without complaints of vertigo, and neither patient had a family history of hearing loss or neurogenic tumors. Both patients had near-symmetric pure tone thresholds on audiometric testing. An MRI and a CT scan were performed on both patients, and bilateral vestibular schwannomas were identified on MRI.

Conclusions: Though MRI is not routinely utilized in adult cochlear implant evaluation, it may be of greater clinical value than CT in the setting of adult-onset hearing loss. MRI allows for sensitive evaluation of cochlear patency and architecture, and cochlear nerve status. As demonstrated in the two index cases, MRI also provides the added benefit of evaluating for causes of retrocochlear hearing loss. These two patients would have likely experienced a significant delay in diagnosis of NF2 without preoperative MRI, particularly given the limitations of scanning following CI magnet placement.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / diagnosis*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth