MRIs utilize a magnetic field, which results in complications for medical implants. Specific conditions need to be followed to undergoing a scan. We’re here to help you understand what needing an MRI will mean for you and what to expect during the process.

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What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic technique used to obtain images of organs and tissues by means of a very powerful magnetic field measured in tesla (T). MRI scans can range in strength from 0.2 T to 7.0 T, with 1.5 T being the most common1.

Safety considerations for medical implants and MRI

Due to the powerful magnetic field, medical implants with metallic or ferromagnetic components such as pacemakers, defibrillators, catheters, pumps and cochlear implants can restrict the ability to have an MRI. Many of these devices are not allowed in MRI or have specific conditions that need to be followed because there is a potential risk of damage to the device or discomfort for the person undergoing the scan.

Cochlear implants and MRI compatibility

For cochlear implants, MRI procedures can be performed depending on the implant generation you have (See Table 1).  There are two parts of the cochlear implant that impact the ability to have a MRI, the magnet, which allows your external sound processor to stay connected and the electrode, which is the part of the device within your cochlea.  Since 1997 Cochlear has designed implants with a removable magnet, which allowed for cochlear implant patients to receive an MRI, which would not have been possible otherwise.  Since then we have introduced a splint kit that allows some patients to have MRI scans at 1.5T without the need of a magnet removal. If routine MRI’s are ever required, a non-magnetic plug can be put within your implant to make the process easier.

Can a person with a cochlear implant have an MRI? *

Table 1

Implant Type** MRI Compatible?
Profile Plus (CI632, CI612, CI622) Yes, you can undergo scans at 1.5T and 3.0T without a splint kit or magnet removal
Profile (CI532, CI512, CI522) Yes, you can have a scan at 1.5T with a splint kit, scans at 3.0T would require a magnet removal
Freedom (CI422, CI24REH, CI24RE(CA), CI24RE(ST)) Yes, you can have a scan at 1.5T with a splint kit, scans at 3.0T would require a magnet removal
CI24R, CI24M Magnet removal is required for 1.5T scans, scans at 3.0T are not allowed
CI22M No, MRI scans are not allowed at 1.5T or 3.0T

 

*There are specific considerations for bilateral recipients and those with other implants within their body which may restrict the ability to have a scan.  The radiology professional would make the ultimate decision on ability to have a scan.

** Confirm your implant type by logging into your Cochlear Family account and select My Equipment.

So what do I need to do?

Now that you understand some of the background of MRI scans with cochlear implants. Here are the steps you should take if an MRI is required:

  • Ensure your radiology center is aware you have a cochlear implant, or bilateral cochlear implants, and this requires specific conditions to be followed
  • Provide the center with the MRI Guidelines and Implant Model Number.
  • Let your radiology center know that if a Nucleus Implant Bandage and Splint Kit for MRI is required so they can order from Cochlear.

What to expect in the MRI

If it is determined that you need an MRI, here are some things to expect:

  • You will have to take off your sound processor before undergoing a scan
  • Your head may be wrapped with a bandage. This will feel very tight and is important to keep your implant magnet stationary.
  • There may be some resistance or pressure on the skin that takes place. Make sure your radiology professional is aware of any pain or discomfort.
  • For information on the head wrap to understand what to expect, watch this video:
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  1. MarketsandMarkets Industry Research, ‘Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Market – Global Forecast to 2020’, 2014.
  2. Radiology Poll conducted by Penn, Schoen, Berland, August 2015. Data on File. (Survey sponsored by Cochlear).
  3. RadiologyInfo.org [Internet]. Radiologyinfo.org. 2017 [cited 12 October 2017]. Available from: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/
  4. Bo Gyung Kim, MD, PhD1; Jin Won Kim, MD2; Jeong Jin Park, MD2; Sung Huhn Kim, MD, PhD2; Hee Nam Kim, MD, PhD3; Jae Young Choi, MD, PhD2, (2015) Adverse Events and Discomfort During Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Cochlear Implant Recipients, JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;141(1):45-52. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2014.2926.
  5. NUCLEUS® COCHLEAR™ IMPLANTS FDA APPROVED FOR MRI. 1.5T and 3.0T. With magnet removed. Approved for MRI up to 3.0T with the magnet removed at 1.5T with magnet in place with use of Cochlear Nucleus Implant Bandage and Splint Kit: Nucleus profile: CI512, CI522, CI532, Nucleus CI24RE: CI422, CI24REH, CI24RE(CA), and CI24RE(ST).
  6. The MRI Kit is not available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative.
Cochlear Guest Writer
Cochlear Americas showcases the stories of real people celebrating life's real moments. This blog was written by a guest writer for Cochlear Americas. For more information on the guest writer, please see read above.