August 19, 2020, by Adele Horobin
Can I have an MRI scan when I use cochlear implants?
We want to improve the experience for people who use cochlear implants and need to have an MRI scan. Please help us by completing our survey. Physicist, Dr Rebecca Dewey, explains more.
If you use a cochlear implant, please consider completing this 15-minute survey: https://nottingham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ci_comfort. It’s entirely anonymous, and you can complete it on your phone, tablet or computer. We will use the results in producing guidance for professionals to improve cochlear implant design and tailor scanning procedures for patients with cochlear implants.
What is MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is very safe and most people are able to have the procedure. It uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. This can be invaluable in diagnosing health conditions, planning treatment and checking how well treatment is going.
I wear a cochlear implant. Can I have MRI?
However, the strong magnets used in MRI mean that care has to be taken to keep all metal objects at a safe distance. But what about people who have metal implants? Can someone with cochlear implants go in an MRI scanner? A lot of people think not, but actually it might be easier than you think, and the science is helping us make it even better.
Should I worry?
Needing to have an MRI scan to find out if there’s something wrong is an anxiety-filled experience. It’s not made any easier by worrying about whether the scan itself is going to break the device you rely on for your hearing, or cause you pain. Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about a friend-of-a-friend who had a horrible time of it. Thankfully that’s all really rare, and getting rarer.
How can I help?
I’m part of a team in Hearing Sciences and the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre in the University of Nottingham, where MRI was originally developed, and for which Sir Peter Mansfield was awarded the Nobel Prize. I am working on ways to make MRI more ‘cochlear implant-friendly’. I’ve been speaking to radiographers and radiologists about what needs to be addressed and I would also like to know what cochlear implant users themselves have been told or have found out in relation to having an MRI scan.
I want to understand any worries that cochlear implant users have so that researchers, healthcare and technical staff and manufacturers can start to address these to make life easier for everyone, get better images, and improve lives.
How do I complete the survey?
Here’s that link again, we need anyone with a cochlear implant, aged 16 and over to complete it https://nottingham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ci_comfort. By giving us a few minutes of your time, you can really make a difference to our research.
Useful links for further reading:
The Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/spmic/index.aspx
Hearing Sciences research group, University of Nottingham: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/hearingsciences/index.aspx
NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre – Hearing: https://nottinghambrc.nihr.ac.uk/research/hearing
NHS site giving an overview of an MRI scan: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mri-scan/