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Radiology. 2010 Dec;257(3):802-9. doi: 10.1148/radiol.10092366. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Neonatal cochlear function: measurement after exposure to acoustic noise during in utero MR imaging.

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Academic Unit of Radiology, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Rd, C Floor, Sheffield S10 2JF, England.



To establish whether fetal exposure to the operating noise of 1.5-T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is associated with cochlear injury and subsequent hearing loss in neonates.


The study was performed with local research ethics committee approval and written informed parental consent. Neonatal hearing test results, including otoacoustic emission (OAE) data, were sought for all neonates delivered in Sheffield who had previously undergone in utero MR imaging between August 1999 and September 2007. The prevalence of hearing impairment in these neonates was determined, with corresponding 95% confidence intervals calculated by using the binomial exact method, and mean OAE measurements were compared with anonymized local audiometric reference data by using the t test.


One hundred three neonates who had undergone in utero MR imaging were identified; 96 of them had completed hearing screening assessment. Thirty-four of these babies were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and one of them had bilateral hearing impairment. The prevalence of hearing impairment was 1% (one of 96; 95% confidence interval: 0.03%, 5.67%), which is in accordance with the prevalence expected, given the high proportion of babies in this study who had been in the NICU (ie, NICU graduates). In addition, for the well babies, there was no significant difference in mean OAE cochlear response compared with that for a reference data set of more than 16,000 OAE results. When NICU graduates were included in the comparison, a significant difference (P = .002) was found in one of four frequency bands used to analyze the cochlear response; however, this difference was small compared with the normal variation in OAE measurements.


The findings in this study provide some evidence that exposure of the fetus to 1.5-T MR imaging during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of substantial neonatal hearing impairment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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