Cochlear implants use magnets to hold external sound processors to the head. In an MRI setting, a conventionally designed magnet will be attracted to the magnetic fields within the machine. This can result in discomfort for the recipient, and in a worst case scenario, magnet dislodgement. To be able to safely have an MRI, the recipient would need an MRI splint kit attached to their head. These kits protect from magnet dislodgement, however not all imaging centers have them. Our new design means that recipients no longer require a splint kit, and can have an MRI without pain or dislodgement.
With this design, we have implemented a solution where recipients no longer need to remove the magnet in order to undergo a 3T MRI. Instead of the traditional axially magnetised magnet, the magnet is able to rotate within the implant to align with the MRI field. Additionally, if an MRI is required of the recipient's head, the magnet is easy to access without lifting the coil or excessive implant handling. No proprietary tools are needed; the procedure can be completed using standard forceps. The procedure only requires a small incision, reducing the risk of pain and infection.
From a surgical perspective, the Nucleus® Profile™ Plus Series Implant does not require any different treatment when implanted. The implant is designed for the life of the recipient, and as such, having a design that allows them to undergo this routine imaging service without concern of safety is a great quality of life improvement. For the instances where magnet removal is required for imaging of the head, surgeons are able to easily remove the magnet from the implant without a complicated procedure of special tools.
With cochlear implants, the electrode that is placed into the cochlea is directly attached to the implant body. If the implant is moved, it is at risk of moving the attached electrode. This movement can cause damage to the hearing hair cells, as well as other parts of the cochlea. In our design, the magnet can be easily removed from the implant, without adjusting the position of the implant itself. This leads to improved recipient outcomes, as they are not at risk of having the electrode in their cochlea moved.