Auditory Pathway Mapping in Pediatric Patients with Sensorineural Hearing Loss Being Evaluated for Surgical Therapy

Brief description of study

This research study will evaluate two new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) sequences during a standard pre-operative MRI of the inner ear prior to cochlear implantation. An MRI is a machine that uses magnetic fields and radio frequencies to produce images of the body. MRI sequences are the specific radiofrequencies used to create images of the body. We use MRI to look at the inner ear prior to surgery to ensure that the surgeon will be able to successfully implant the device. Additionally, we use MRI to ensure that the cochlear nerve traveling from the brainstem to the cochlea is present. This nerve transmits sound to the brain. If that nerve is absent on MRI, sometimes the surgeons decide not to place a cochlear implant because they believe that without a nerve, a cochlear implant will not function properly. However, sometimes that nerve is too small to be seen with MRI, and patients without a visible nerve who receive a cochlear implant have good outcomes. Because it is difficult to predict outcomes of cochlear implantation by looking for the presence of the cochlear nerve alone, we are interested in finding a different way to predict which patients will have good surgical outcomes. The study will use two new MRI sequences to look at not just the cochlear nerve, but also the entire auditory pathway from the cochlea to the brain. Our sequences are the first to be able to see all of the structures and pathways involved in hearing. By visualizing the entire auditory pathway for the first time, we can describe the appearance of a normal pathway in normally hearing children and adults as well as the appearance of the auditory pathway in patients with hearing loss.

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