Cochlear Implant Magnet Dislocation: Simulations and Measurements of Force and Torque at 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Ear Hear. 2021 Sep/Oct;42(5):1276-1283. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000001013.


Objectives: Dislocation of the magnet inside the implanted component of a cochlear implant (CI) can be a serious risk for patients undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam. CI manufacturers aim to reduce this risk either via the design of the implant magnet or magnet housing, or by advising a compression bandage and cover over the magnet. The aim of this study is to measure forces and torque on the magnet for different CI models and assess the effectiveness of the design and preventative measures on the probability of magnet dislocation.

Design: Six CI models from four manufacturers covering all the current CI brands were included. Each model was positioned on a polystyrene head with compression bandage and magnet cover according to the recommendations of the manufacturer and tested for dislocation in a 1.5T whole-body MRI system. In addition, measurements of the displacement force in front of the MRI scanner and torque at the MRI scanner isocenter were obtained.

Results: Chance of CI magnet dislocation was observed for two CI models. The design of the magnet or magnet housing of the other models proved sufficient to prevent displacement of the magnet. The main cause for magnet dislocation was found to be the rotational force resulting from the torque experienced inside the magnet bore, which ranges from 2.4 to 16.2 N between the models, with the displacement force being lower, ranging from 1.0 to 1.8 N.

Conclusions: In vitro testing shows that two CI models are prone to the risk of magnet dislocation. In these CI models, preparation before MRI with special compression bandage and a stiff cover are of importance. But these do not eliminate the risk of pain and dislocation requiring patient consulting before an MRI exam. Newer models show a better design resulting in a significantly reduced risk of magnet dislocation.

MeSH terms

  • Cochlear Implantation*
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnets
  • Torque