MRI Safety and Cochlear Implants

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, usually referred to as MRI, is an imaging technology that uses strong magnetic fields to enable doctors and other healthcare professionals to see detailed images of the inside of a person's body. An MRI scan can provide doctors with clear diagnostic images without exposing a person to the radiation that occurs during a CT scan or X-ray.

MRI machines are available in different magnetic strengths, which are measured in Tesla (T). The strength of an MRI scanner’s magnetic field directly affects the quality of an image. MRI scanners with stronger magnetic fields can provide much quicker, clearer images.

Older 1.5 Tesla scanners are still common, but high-resolution 3.0 Tesla MRI scanners are becoming increasingly popular. A 3.0 Tesla MRI can quickly provide clinicians with a much clearer and more accurate diagnostic image, and is therefore the preferred choice of many doctors.

MRI safety is of vital importance for all cochlear implant recipients, not just those who are anticipating an MRI scan. Given that children as young as 12 months are receiving cochlear implants, and considering the sharp increase in MRI use over the past years, it's almost certain that they will require an MRI at some point in their lives. However, not all cochlear implants can deliver equal MRI safety.1, 2, 3

MRI scan

MRI scans are a common medical procedure for individuals of all ages.



Dr. Harold Pillsbury, MD

If you’re going to get an MRI and have a choice, 3.0 T is the gold standard.

Dr. Harold Pillsbury, MD

Chair, UNC Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

For 25 years, MED-EL cochlear implants have been engineered to provide the utmost safety and comfort to our recipients during MRI procedures. In a recent study on MRIs and cochlear implants, MED-EL recipients were the only group of cochlear implant recipients able to complete MRIs without pain, discomfort, or complications.4

Of the three brands used, MED-EL was the clear choice for both safety and comfort. Every MED-EL recipient completed their MRI without any issue. These recipients had our previous generations of MED-EL implants. Most of the patients with other brands experienced pain, discomfort, or complications; these problems included pain at the implant site, having to stop the MRI, and even the dislocation of the implant magnet. Also, patients with other brands may need multiple surgeries to remove and replace the magnet for many MRI scans, and those patients are not able to hear or use their audio processors during the healing process from these surgeries.

All MED-EL recipients can enjoy uninterrupted hearing before and after an MRI, because MED-EL implants do not need unnecessary surgeries to remove and replace the magnet for an MRI. And with our new SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant, recipients can expect even greater comfort and safety during an MRI.

Important MRI Safety Information

MED-EL is the clear choice for MRI safety and security.

MED-EL is the clear choice for MRI safety and security.

SYNCHRONY’s revolutionary magnet design delivers the highest MRI safety of any cochlear implant.

SYNCHRONY’s revolutionary magnet design delivers the highest MRI safety of any cochlear implant.

Unlike any other cochlear implant, MED-EL’s SYNCHRONY Cochlear Implant enables 3.0 Tesla MRI scans without the need for additional surgeries to remove the implant magnet. With SYNCHRONY, recipients avoid unnecessary surgery and can enjoy uninterrupted hearing. SYNCHRONY’s magnet can freely rotate and self-align inside of its housing, so it’s not adversely affected by the magnetic field of an MRI scan. There’s no torque or “tugging” on the implant, for much greater comfort and security during an MRI.

With this revolutionary magnet, SYNCHRONY is the only cochlear implant that enables a high resolution 3.0 Tesla MRI without surgical magnet removal—the highest MRI safety of any cochlear implant.2,3

  1. OECD, (2014). Health at a Glance: Europe 2014. OECD Publishing.

  2. MRI compatibility. Retrieved from:

  3. Advanced Bionics Receives CE Mark Approval of Expanded MRI Compatibility for Cochlear Implants. Retrieved from:

  4. Kim, B.G., Kim, J.W., Park, J.J., Kim, S.H., Kim, H.N., & Choi, J.Y. (2015). Adverse events and discomfort during magnetic resonance imaging in cochlear implant recipients. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 141(1), 45–52. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2014.2926.

© 2017 MED-EL

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