Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Safe to Use in the MRI Machine?

Do you love listening to music while getting an MRI scan, but worry that your noise-canceling headphones might interfere with the procedure? Or have you been advised by your physician to avoid wearing them during the process altogether? 

If so, fear not! We’ve got all the answers you need on whether noise-canceling headphones are safe to use in the MRI machine. Read on to discover what medical experts say about this popular question and how it could impact your next imaging session.

What is an MRI Machine?

MRI Machine

An MRI machine is a type of medical imaging equipment that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body. MRI machines are used to diagnose a variety of conditions, including tumors, hidden injuries, and neurological disorders.

Noise-canceling headphones can be safely used in MRI machines as long as they do not contain any metal components. This is because the magnetic fields generated by an MRI machine can interact with metal objects, causing them to heat up or move unexpectedly. However, noise-canceling headphones that do not contain any metal are safe to use in an MRI machine.

How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

There are many different types of noise-cancelling headphones on the market, but they all work to diminish outside noise by using one or more of three basic methods. The first and most common method is active noise control, which uses a microphone to pick up unwanted sounds and then emits a sound wave that cancels out the original noise. 

The second method employs passive noise isolation, which physically blocks out external noise with sound-damping materials like foam or silicone. The third method, known as bone conduction, doesn’t actually cancel noise but rather vibrates your skull so you can hear music without blocking your ear canals.

Noise cancelling headphones are generally safe to use in the MRI machine, but it’s always best to check with your doctor or technician beforehand. Active noise control headphones can produce a small amount of electromagnetic interference that could potentially disrupt the MRI images, but this is usually not a concern unless you have a pacemaker or other implanted device. Passive noise isolation headphones are unlikely to cause any problems, but bone conduction headphones should be avoided since they can interfere with the machine’s magnet.

Explanation of why metal objects can be dangerous in MRI machines

When it comes to MRI machines, one of the biggest dangers is that of metal objects. Specifically, anything that contains iron can be dangerous in an MRI machine. This is because the magnetic field of the MRI machine can interact with the iron in these objects, potentially causing them to move or even become lodged in the patient’s body. 

In addition, any object that is made of ferromagnetic material can also be dangerous in an MRI machine. This is because these materials can become magnetized in the presence of a strong magnetic field, and this could cause them to either attract or repel other objects in the MRI machine. 

Any object that is made of conductive material can also be dangerous in an MRI machine. This is because Conductive materials can influence the flow of electricity in the presence of a magnetic field, and this could result in electrical shocks or fires.

Explanation of special MRI-compatible headphones

Wearing headphones during an MRI scan is generally safe. However, if you have a medical device such as a cochlear implant or pacemaker, you may be advised to avoid using headphones during the scan.

Some types of headphones are specifically designed to be used during MRIs. These headphones, sometimes called “MRI-compatible headphones” or “MRI-safe headphones”, are made with materials that are safe to use in the magnetic and radiofrequency environment of the MRI machine.

If you don’t have MRI-compatible headphones, you can still wear regular headphones during your scan. The sound quality may not be as good as with MRI-compatible headphones, but it will still allow you to hear music or other audio during the procedure.

Potential Risks of Noise-Canceling Headphones in an MRI Machine

Noise-canceling headphones are generally safe to use in an MRI machine, but there are some potential risks that you should be aware of. First, if the noise-canceling headphones are not properly grounded, they can create a magnetic field that can interfere with the MRI. 

Second, if the noise-canceling headphones are worn during an MRI, they may distort the images of the brain. Noise-canceling headphones may make it difficult for the radiologist to hear any abnormal sounds coming from the patient during the exam. 

Finally, noise-canceling headphones could potentially be a fire hazard due to the large amounts of energy being sent through the device during the MRI scan. Any flammable materials near the headphones, such as hair and clothing, can be ignited.  As a result, it is best to remove any flammable material before using noise-canceling headphones in an MRI machine.

Safety Tips for Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones in An MRI Machine

MRI Machine

If you are going to be having an MRI scan, you may be wondering if it is safe to use noise-canceling headphones. The short answer is that it is generally safe to use noise-canceling headphones in an MRI machine, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, make sure that the noise-canceling headphones you use are specifically designed for MRI use. Some types of headphones can create interference that can potentially affect the quality of your MRI scan.

Second, always follow the instructions of your radiologist or MRI technologist. They will be able to help you position the headphones in a way that ensures they do not interfere with the scan.

Be aware that noise-canceling headphones will not completely block out all noise from the MRI machine. You may still hear some loud noises, but they should be muffled and less bothersome than without the headphones.

Other Alternatives to Noise Cancelling Headphones in An MRI Machine

If you cannot or do not want to use noise-canceling headphones in the MRI machine, there are other alternatives that may be suitable for you. One option is to use regular earplugs instead of headphones. 

This may be a more comfortable option for some people and can still help reduce noise levels. another alternative is to wear earmuffs over your ears. This can also help reduce noise levels and may be more comfortable for some people.

Advantages of using MRI-compatible headphones

There are a few advantages of using MRI-compatible headphones during your MRI scan. First, they help to reduce the noise made by the machine, which can be quite loud and overwhelming. This can make the experience more comfortable for you and help you to relax. 

MRI-compatible headphones can also help improve communication between you and the technologist running your scan. If you have any questions or concerns during the procedure, you will be able to ask them more easily. 

Using headphones during your MRI scan can help to block out outside noise, making it easier for you to focus on the task at hand.

Recap of why noise-canceling headphones are not safe to use in the MRI machine

As we have seen in previous sections, noise-canceling headphones are not safe to use in the MRI machine. The main reason for this is that the magnets in the headphones can interact with the magnetic field of the MRI machine, which can lead to serious injuries.

Another reason why noise-canceling headphones are not safe to use in the MRI machine is that they can block out important safety sounds that you need to hear. For example, if there is an emergency situation, you may not be able to hear it if you are wearing noise-canceling headphones.

It is important to note that even if you are not using noise-canceling headphones, you should still be careful when using any type of headphone near an MRI machine. This is because the magnets in the headphones can still interact with the magnetic field of the MRI machine and cause injuries.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to use noise-canceling headphones during an MRI is one that must be made by each patient and their doctor. While there may be some safety risks associated with using them in the MRI machine, these are very minimal when compared to the benefits they can provide. 

Noise cancellation technology has come a long way in recent years and can drastically reduce how loud it gets inside an MRI scanner. Moreover, many manufacturers now offer models specifically designed for this scenario, so it’s worth looking into if you want a more comfortable experience during your scan.

About the Author

MRI Machine

Rach Wellard

Rach Wellard is the driving force behind Sound & Solitude. Her mission is to help you discover the profound impact of sound in your daily life and to explore the beauty of solitude. With a deep passion for the connection between soundscapes and emotions, she brings a unique blend of expertise and personal dedication to our platform.

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