Adverse Events and Discomfort During Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Cochlear Implant Recipients

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Patients with cochlear implants (CIs) should be fully informed before undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) about the possibility of discomfort or pain. Prior to an MRI scan, patients need to fully understand not only the potential complications but also the potential discomfort that they may experience during the scan.


To assess the adverse events during MRI in patients with CIs and to investigate the safety and diagnostic efficiency of MRI in patients with CIs with internal magnets.


Retrospective review of the medical records of 18 patients with CIs undergoing MRI between September 2003 and February 2014 at a single tertiary referral center.


Sixteen patients underwent MRI in a 1.5-T scanner, and 2 patients underwent MRI in a 3.0-T scanner. Twelve brain MRI scans were performed, and 18 MRI scans were performed in areas outside the brain.


Discomfort or pain, adverse events, and auditory performance after MRI were evaluated using medical records or interviews.


Thirteen of 18 patients completed their MRI scans (25 of 30 scans). Five patients with head bandages were unable to complete their MRI scans owing to pain; one of these patients experienced magnet displacement, and another underwent surgery for magnet removal and reinsertion. Finally, 1 patient experienced polarity reversal of the magnet. Artifacts induced by the CI internal magnet compromised the diagnosis of ipsilateral brain lesions under 1.5-T MRI. Auditory performance in the CI recipients who had major events was unaffected.


Even with protective head bandages, 1.5-T MRI in patients with CIs led to a variety of adverse events, including discomfort or pain and displacement of the internal magnet. Therefore, sedation and careful head positioning may be appropriate for some patients with CIs who undergo MRI, and these patients should be carefully monitored to decrease the likelihood of such adverse effects.

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