Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

MRI a Better Tool for Bionic Ears

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

MRI a Better Tool for Bionic Ears

Article excerpt

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be a better diagnostic tool for evaluating cochlear ear implants than the more commonly used high-resolution computed tomography (CT), according to a study at the University of Texas.

A cochlear implant, sometimes called a "bionic ear," allows patients with congenital heating loss to bypass the problem and again perceive sound. Surgeons conduct radiological studies using either an MRI or CT scan before implanting the device to detect abnormalities in the inner ear, conditions of the related nerves, or any obstructions in the ear ducts.

A research team led by Dr. Peter Roland, Professor and Chairman of Otolaryngology, conducting the first head-to-head comparison of MRI and CT, found that MRIs offered a more detailed view.

"Thirty percent of patients we evaluated had abnormalities on MRI we would not have seen on CT, whereas in none of the patients were there findings on CT that we wouldn't have seen on MRI," said Dr. Roland.

"In half the patients who had abnormalities on MRI that weren't seen on CT, it made a difference in which ear was selected for implantation," he said.

Researchers evaluated the records of 56 implantation candidates, imaging 112 temporal bones. CT scans found as few as 6 percent of some abnormalities.

On average, the cost of testing and anesthesiology for MRI is 40 to 50 percent higher than that associated with CT.

The ear normally translates sound waves--a mechanical form of energy--to electrical impulses, which the brain perceives as sound. Implants bypass the dysfunctional inner ear and mirror the natural mechanical-to-electrical-impulse translation. …

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