Why are MRI scans important?
There are a number of different body scanning techniques, most of which are absolutely fine with a cochlear implant. CT scans, for example, which use X-rays to look at hard structures inside the body, can be used for a person with a cochlear implant, as long as they take off their external speech processor before the scan starts. An MRI scan, however, which is sometimes used in hospitals to look at softer structures inside the body, works using a strong magnetic field. As there is metal in the internal part of the cochlear implant, having an MRI scan with a cochlear implant needs more careful planning, regardless of which part of the body is being scanned.
How does this affect my choice of cochlear implant?
All of the manufacturers have protocols in place which mean that an MRI with a CI is possible, but it will ALWAYS need the scanning department at the hospital to liaise with us at the Implant Centre to make sure that the settings and procedures have been followed for the scan to be safe for you. If the correct procedures are not followed, having an MRI scan can cause discomfort for the patient or damage to the implant itself.
It is likely that every one of us will need an MRI scan at some stage in our lives so we will always aim to implant devices with the highest MRI compatibility possible. Cochlear implant internal devices have different levels of MRI compatibility (measured in ‘Tesla’) and you may want to take this into account when choosing your implant manufacturer. If you have a condition which means that MRI scans are likely to be needed in the future, it is important to take this into consideration.
What do you currently offer?
Newer cochlear implant models tend to be more MRI compatible (to a higher Tesla level) and we will always aim use the most MRI compatible implant available wherever possible. Sometimes a less MRI compatible device will be recommended for you for other medical reasons (the surgeon or audiologist will discuss this with you).