Pain Free 3 T MRI Scans in Cochlear Implantees

Otol Neurotol. 2017 Dec;38(10):e401-e404. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001569.


Objective: For cochlear implant recipients, undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans is associated with safety risks and potential side effects. Even following safety guidelines, potential complications (e.g., pain, magnet dislocation, image artifacts) are possible during 1.5 Tesla (T) MRI scans. The stronger static magnetic field of a 3.0 T scanner is associated with further risks of complication, including implant demagnetization. These complications led to the recent development of rotatable internal receiver magnets with a diametrical magnetization.The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential occurrence of pain during 3.0 T MRI scans for cochlear implant recipients with a rotatable, diametrically magnetized implant magnet.

Patients: Five patients implanted with a cochlear implant diametrically magnetized magnet.

Intervention: MRI scanning at 3 T.

Main outcome measure: In the prospective patient study an MRI scan was performed on five implantees and the degree of pain was evaluated by a visual analog scale. Scans were performed initially with a magnet-supporting headband, and depending on the degree of discomfort/pain, repeated without the headband.

Results: In all the patients, all the MRI scans were performed without any pain, even without the use of the supportive headband. Demagnetization was clinically not observed.

Conclusion: 3.0 T MRI scanning can be performed on cochlear implant recipients with a rotatable diametrically magnetized internal magnet without risk of the most frequent cochlear-implant-related MRI complication: pain. This finding enables the expansion of MRI scanning indications up to 3.0 T without complication. Limitations in terms of MRI artifact still persist.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects*
  • Magnets
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Visual Analog Scale