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Open and Closed MRI Machines – What’s The Difference

Oct 8, 2020 | Articles, MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging exam that combines radio waves and magnetic waves to create an image of a person’s internal organs. These are ordered and assessed by doctors to determine if you have any underlying health issues that need to be addressed.

An MRI machine is used to create a well-controlled magnetic field to complete the scan. As the mechanism emits magnetic waves, your body, in turn, produces radio waves. The machine captures this, and, as a result, an image of your organs can be viewed and printed.

Thanks to the advancements in modern technology, these specialized machines have significantly served the field of medicine, allowing doctors to examine people’s bodies for all kinds of diseases and learn to treat them while it’s still early. 

There are currently two kinds of MRI machines: an open MRI and a closed MRI


What is a Closed MRI?

A closed MRI was the first to be invented and can be described as a capsule-shaped platform where a patient lies on top of to be scanned, producing a final image. This type of MRI’s parts involve a vast magnet and radio waves that direct and obtain signals to and from your body. Closed MRI

There is a computer connected to the machine that transmits and interprets the signals, turning it into high-quality images. The scanner can deliver different levels of strength of magnetic fields, which is calculated in teslas (T), ranging from between 0.5T to 3T.

The results that an MRI scan produces can help doctors develop the proper analysis for patients expecting to receive personalized treatment programs to help aid their illnesses.  


What is an Open MRI?

An open MRI is an exposed machine that is capable of manipulating the use of magnets to take the necessary images of a patient’s internal organs. Its parts involve a magnetic bottom and top, keeping its corners bare to allow more room for a patient undergoing the scan to breathe. 

Open MRI

If you are claustrophobic, afraid of being trapped in tight spaces, experience panic attacks, or have difficulty breathing in certain situations, then you can opt for an open MRI instead of the traditional closed method. It can still provide correct and accurate results that a doctor can use to take stock of your health.  


Closed MRI vs. Open MRI

Undergoing an MRI scan is a crucial part of helping professionals determine your condition, giving them a preview of what’s going on inside your body without having to open you up. It’s a valuable piece of technology that has resulted from the notable advancements brought over the years.

While it cannot be avoided to see these two as practically the same machine that offers the same results, the fact is that each brings its own value to patients who need them. 


The Points of Consideration: Accuracy and Comfort

The main differences one can easily tell from the two types of MRI machines would be in the accuracy and comfort of each. 

For one, closed MRI machines provide greater T-Levels, providing between 0.5 to 3, as compared to open MRI’s levels that hit less than 0.5. This would seem obvious, as an open MRI does not have as heavy-duty magnets to support its function due to its mobility. This, in turn, makes an open MRI produce less accurate images, causing poorer resolution that can confuse fat and water, as well as blur some of the smaller organs within the image.

One the other hand, the obvious benefit of using an open MRI would be in the comfort levels. As it’s not an enclosed machine, the open MRI can be used for patients who may not fit within the closed MRI’s “capsule.” This is also a better solution for those who are claustrophobic and can’t handle the enclosed feeling that such machines give an impression of.

MRI Scan

How to Undergo a Closed MRI if You Have Anxiety Issues

Through a professional’s help, you can overcome your fears and get through a closed MRI session. You can prevent feeling anxious by asking your doctor for medication to provide you with sedatives before your MRI scan.

Taking the appropriate medicines can greatly improve how you’re feeling and help eliminate specific fears due to a closed MRI scan. If it helps, you can also request to see the MRI scanner before the day of your appointment to help you become more familiar with the machine.

If you’re worried about the sounds you’ll be hearing once you’re inside, you can ask for a set of earplugs to block out the loud noise to keep you calm. Practicing breathing exercises by inhaling and exhaling slowly can also help make you feel better while you’re inside a closed MRI.


The Bottom Line

An MRI scan is an essential part of any medical procedure to help doctors understand your situation and give them the power to treat you appropriately while the disease is still at its early stages. Whether you choose a closed MRI or an open MRI is entirely up to you, given your preferences and specific conditions. At the end of the day, what’s important is knowing your MRI results and deciding to undergo the necessary procedures, so you can continue living a healthy and long life.


Do you work with MRI machines?

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