Open MRI vs. Closed MRI Whats the Difference

Open MRI vs. Closed MRI: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) systems, patients may have a choice between open or closed MRI depending on their imaging provider. 

While the closed MRI is more common, you may consider an open MRI if you’re claustrophobic, overweight, or generally averse to undergoing a traditional closed MRI. 

What is an open MRI:

There are two types of open MRI. The original open MRI requires patients to lay down during their scan, however, it is usually open on two or three sides so they are not confined inside a dark tube. Because the patient is still laying down, the open MRI produces similar results to the closed version. 

The other kind of open MRI is called an upright MRI. The upright MRI produces a much different experience for the patient because they have the option to sit, stand, bend, or lay down during the procedure. Getting in the position of pain means the upright MRI results show the cause of the injury more clearly.
Both types of open MRI greatly reduce the risk of panic attacks and claustrophobia and are more accessible to people who may not be comfortable fitting in a closed MRI.

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Open MRI

Pros:

As the name suggests, one of the biggest draws of open MRI is that it’s open. With that comes other benefits that closed MRI do not provide. 

  • They are less enclosed than a closed MRI: An open MRI system doesn’t cause the same level of claustrophobia and anxiety as a closed MRI system, since the unit doesn’t fully encase your body. The system can accommodate you much more comfortably, no matter what size you are.
  • They are quieter than a closed MRI: These don’t make as much noise as a closed MRI. The sound it does make is less likely to affect you adversely since you won’t be inside an enclosed space.
  • They are more child-friendly: Most children don’t respond well to being in an enclosed space by themselves. An open MRI makes it simpler to scan kids, particularly if a parent is by their side.
  • They can move: Many open MRI systems allow technologists to tilt them and can scan you in a standing position, instead of having you lie flat. This tilting feature makes it simpler to diagnose certain diseases and conditions like spinal injuries and back pain with greater accuracy.
  • They are more accessible: Closed MRI is more difficult to enter and endure for patients who are disabled or in wheelchairs. However, an open machine makes the transportation process much more comfortable and smoother.
  • They produce clearer images if you have metal implants: If you have any metallic objects in your body from previous surgery, the artifacts from your metal implants could significantly minimize the quality of your MRI images. But, the open MRI system uses a lower magnetic field strength, which produces fewer artifacts from metallic objects than the closed MRI system’s higher magnetic field.

What is a closed MRI:

Closed MRI has been around longer than open MRI and uses a capsule-like space to take high-quality images. The closed MRI machine is actually a magnet the patient lies in uses radio waves to send signals to the body and receive them back. The returning signals are converted into images by a computer attached to the scanner.

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Closed MRI

Pros:

A closed MRI offers several advantages.

  • They can help diagnose more problems: Because they surround you with higher-powered magnets on all sides, closed MRIs produce faster scanning of images. 
  • They can offer quick scanning: Because of the magnetic field strength, they can usually scan faster, too, even if it can still take a little time to do so, depending on the body part the doctor needs scanning.
  • Better quality images: One significant benefit of closed MRIs is that they can capture high-quality, detailed images because of their stronger magnetic field.

It is best to consult your doctor and radiology technician about which kind of MRI is best for you. Most insurance companies will only cover MRI if they are deemed “medically necessary”. If you plan on paying with insurance, it may be a good idea to contact your insurance carrier about your specific policy. If you don’t have insurance or do not want to use it, self-pay options and discounts are always available. 

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.

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