Cochlear implants and 1.5 T MRI scans: the effect of diametrically bipolar magnets and screw fixation on pain

J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018 Feb 5;47(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s40463-017-0252-9.


Background: The probability that a patient will need an MRI scan at least once in a lifetime is high. However, MRI scanning in cochlear implantees is associated with side effects. Moreover, MRI scan-related artifacts, dislodging magnets, and pain are often the most frequent complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of pain in patients with cochlear implant systems using 1.5T MRI scans.

Methods: In a prospective case study of 10 implantees, an MRI scan was performed and the degree of pain was evaluated by a visual analog scale. Scans were performed firstly with and depending on the degree of discomfort/pain, without a headband. Four of the cochlear implants contained a screw fixation. Six cochlear implants contained an internal diametrically bipolar magnet. MRI observations were performed with a 1.5 T scanner.

Results: MRI scans were performed on all patients without causing any degree of pain, even without the use of a headband.

Conclusion: Patients undergoing 1.5 T MRIs with devices including a diametrically bipolar magnet or a rigid implant screw fixation, experienced no pain, even without headbands.

Keywords: Cochlear implant; Complication; Diametrically bipolar magnet; MRI; Pain; Screw fixation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Screws
  • Cochlear Implantation / instrumentation*
  • Cochlear Implantation / methods
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnets / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment