MRI Technologist and hearing aid use

My Audiologist was made aware that I am an MRI Technologist, and the most trouble my mild hearing loss gives me is at work. (I just make my kids speak louder lol).

When I scan anyone, I ask and visually check their ear canals and out go any hearing aids.

My Audi didn’t know what to tell me, said she checked with Oticon (didn’t sound like they knew), and basically said no rechargeable battery HAs, but the other ones should be fine… Probably. And, if not, they were waranteed. Well, the warranty has a $500 replacement charge, so I don’t feel terribly brave with this new experiment now. I already maxed out 3 years of health insurance benefits and paid $300 out of pocket.

I have Oticon miniRite.

She said don’t wear them in the exam room while actively scanning. For background info, the magnet and therefore magnetic field is ALWAYS ON (only off during machine initial installation, deinstallation, or a catastrophic event). She thought wearing them during my normal job functions would be acceptable.

I wore them in the scan room a couple of times and it was horrible! I work primarily on a 3 Tesla scanner and even in the 1.5T rooms my HAs are ferrous (so if I get too close to the machine they twist in my ears are start to pull out–which creates a safety hazard for my patients as they could potentially be pulled out of my ears at an extremely high rate of speed).

I am in and out of the scan room nearly 50 times a day, often with barely a moment’s notice (i.e. claustrophobic patients and critically ill or injured patients).

I have Google searched, and checked for Technologist resources and come up empty.

Does anyone have any resources? When I asked my Audi I was completely underwhelmed. She basically said it was up to me whether I wore them or not . Obviously, this is outside of her scope of knowledge, but if SHE doesn’t know, who would?

I don’t; would suggest you ask your professional association. Surely you’re not alone with this problem. Good luck.

I did; no one knew :neutral_face:

Do you have the possibility of trying out some IICs.

In terms of size and therefore magnetic inductance, all of the components and the battery will be smaller. Plus if they are physically coupled to you and deep in your canals, there’s less risk of them becoming separated from you.

They might not sound as good as your other aids, but practically you’d be able to hear in your work environment.

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Thank you! That would be wonderful

What are IICs?

It was so nice to hear my coworkers before I discovered the problems!

IIC= Invisible in Canal (very small aids that reside within the ear canal.

Can you wear some kind of headband to hold the aids in place?

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I would consult the manufacturer of the MRI machine. They should be responsible for enlightening the operators of their equipment as to all known hazards.

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I second checking with the MRI machine manufacturer.

However, my guess (and it is a guess) is that the batteries are one of the largest amount ferrous material in the hearing aid. I just checked and the 312 batteries I use (Duracell Activair made by Varta in Germany) that are supposed to be stainless steel are attracted by the magnet in the cleaning device supplied by Oticon with my OPN S 1 aids. I don’t know but I expect there are probably electromagnets and/or permanent magnets in the speakers in the hearing aids that generates sound. The combination would seem to preclude the safe use of hearing aids anywhere near an MRI machine.

There are non-magnetic stainless steels but who knows if they are truly non-magnetic with the large fields of an MRI magnet and if any battery manufacturer and hearing aid manufacturer would use only them.

As an MRI patient, I have always been told to remove and leave hearing aids outside of the room with the machine, typically in the control area.

The unfortunate thing is, I have been a Technologist for almost 20 years. There isn’t much I don’t know about the magnets that the manufacturer could help with.

Medical device companies have every reason in the world to make MRI safe functions on pacemakers, defibrillators, neurostimulators, aneurysm clips for brains…but for everyone but me and possibly a handful of other technologists, the answer is easy to simply remove them. I talked further with my Audiologist today and I am just falling thru the cracks. There isn’t any answer other than

A) Not wearing them to work
B) Becoming hyperaware and hypervigilant about removing them every time I go in the scan room (100x a day?)

Sucks to be me, I guess.

But, thank you everyone who replied.

Oh, and I asked about IICs, and she didn’t think that would help. sigh

Are there acoustic measures that you can take to improve your listening environment without hearing aids?

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Oh, that’s a good idea! I hadn’t thought about it from that angle. I will look into that!

Sometimes there are things that you can do in the room, but sometimes there are habits you can change as well. For example, if some of your communication occurs in the scan room itself and that is noisy, you could maybe shift to doing it in a quieter room first to try to keep communication effort in the noisy room a bit lower. Maybe also consider ways you could reduce that back and forth in and out of the scan room. Could there be certain times of the day when you know you’ll be in place for a while and could put your hearing aids in just for that time? Maybe you’d also want to look at some basic PSAPs instead of wearing your hearing aids. Something that offers pretty quick and dirty insertion and removal, maybe just in one ear, and perhaps is a bit bulkier on purpose to support you remembering to take it off every time.


Good suggestions!

One of my challenges is that I work in a large hospital, with multiple scanners, multiple technologists, and generally only one assistant for all of us. The assistant’s desk is away from me by quite a bit, and I suspect that the acoustics aren’t favorable.

One of my assistant’s is from another country and volume level has never been an issue, but clarity and pronunciation get me frequently.

I saved a used battery last night, which I will take in the room tomorrow and see how ferrous it is when I am alone in there.