PURPOSE: Bionic ear implants provide a solution for deafness. Patients treated with these hearing devices are often children who require close follow-up with frequent functional and radiological examinations; in particular, multislice computed tomography (MSCT). Dental volumetric cone-beam CT (CBCT) has been reported as a reliable technique for acquiring images of the temporal bone while delivering low radiation doses and containing costs. The aim of this study was to assess, in terms of radiation dose and image quality, the possibility of using CBCT as an alternative to MSCT in patients with bionic ear implants. MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred patients (mean age 26 years, range 7-43) with Vibrant SoundBridge implants on the round window underwent follow-up: 85 with CBCT and 15 with MSCT. We measured the average tissue-absorbed doses during both MSCT and CBCT scans. Each scan was focused on the temporal bone with the smallest field of view and a low-dose protocol. In order to estimate image quality, we obtained data about slice thickness, high- and low-contrast resolution, uniformity and noise by using an AAPM CT performance phantom. RESULTS: Although the CBCT images were qualitatively inferior to those of MSCT, they were sufficiently diagnostic to allow evaluation of the position of the implants. The effective dose of MSCT was almost three times higher than that of CBCT. CONCLUSIONS: Owing to low radiation dose and sufficient image quality, CBCT could be considered an adequate technique for postoperative imaging and follow-up of patients with bionic ear implants.
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