Since its invention in 1977, MRIs have helped doctors diagnose and treat millions of patients all over the world. Today, patients no longer have to settle for the claustrophobic environment of a traditional closed MRI that has an opening that’s only 60 cm in diameter.
The True Open MRI is open on all sides and provides patients with a lot of breathing room even while it creates excellent images that physicians can use for diagnosis. Open MRI is ideal for patients who are claustrophobic, have a high BMI, and for children who need their parents to be present during the hour-long procedure.
This 3-part blog series about the open MRI began with discussing all the processes that occur during every MRI procedure. Read on for part two—a breakdown of the many advantages of the open MRI.
Advantages of Open MRI
The value of open space during an MRI procedure cannot be overstated. They can take anywhere between 40 minutes to over 1 hour, so the patient’s sense of comfort and safety is crucial to getting a clear image that their physicians can work off of.
True Open MRIs are a tremendous innovation because it allows fresh airflow, provides patients with a clear line of sight around the room and gives patients the option to have a family member present during the procedure. There is no enclosure around the body, so an open MRI can accommodate every patient comfortably.
The anxiety of being in an enclosed space during an MRI procedure is compounded by the noises the machine makes from beginning to end.
Thankfully, open MRIs don’t make as much noise as a traditional closed MRI. And even if the machine makes a few sounds, they are much easier to deal with because the space is so wide and open. It would feel like any other medical procedure where the patient can just let machine sounds fade into the background.
Closed MRIs can only scan patients when they are lying down. On the other hand, open MRIs include a weight-bearing feature that can scan patients while they are in a standing position. This feature makes it easier to diagnose spinal injuries.
For All Types of Patients
Open MRIs promote equity. Differently-abled patients no longer have to settle for narrow tables and narrow openings. Transferring from a wheelchair to a wide-open MRI is much easier and more comfortable.
Open MRIs are also much more comfortable for children. Not only is the space more open, but their parent or guardian can stay in the room with them as the procedure takes place.
Disadvantages of Open MRIs
Of course, no technology is perfect. Open MRIs have a few disadvantages, mainly regarding image quality and availability.
Traditional closed MRIs have powerful magnets that can easily focus on the body due to their enclosed configuration. Because open MRI systems only have magnets above and below the patient, it has a lower magnetic field, producing low-resolution images.
Open MRIs struggle with differentiating fat and water cells apart, so they cannot be used to scan certain body parts and to diagnose some illnesses.
Not all healthcare facilities have open MRIs. If a patient is claustrophobic, obese, or would prefer an open MRI procedure, they may find it challenging to find a clinic or hospital that can accommodate them.
The very first MRI machines had very narrow openings that caused many panic attacks, even in patients that don’t have claustrophobia. Most innovations in MRI technology have focused not just on producing clearer images for physicians but also on making patients much more comfortable throughout the procedure.
Now that they aren’t limited to traditional closed MRI machines, patients who have previously feared MRI exams can now come in and get accurate diagnoses and suitable treatment plans for their conditions and illnesses.
This is part 2 of 3 in this blog series about open MRI. Make sure to check out our blog for more information in parts 1 and 3!
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