Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a three dimensional, detailed anatomical imaging technology. It is both non-invasive and does not use damaging radiation (X-ray). This is one of the safest ways to see inside the body. There are a few types of MRIs, and an open MRI is a great option if you don’t like the enclosed feeling of a traditional MRI but need more detail than an extremity MRI offers. Here’s what you need to know.


Three Types of MRI Machines

To understand an open MRI, it helps to understand the three main types of MRIs that you can get from an imaging center.

  1. Extremity MRI — With this option, rather than putting your whole body into the MRI machine, you just put in your extremity (arms, legs, hands, and feet).
  2. Open MRI — A machine with open sides which still requires the patient to hold quite still, this machine helps to eliminate the anxiety of claustrophobia many people feel with closed MRIs, but unfortunately, due to the weaker magnetic field, these images may be less detailed.
  3. Tesla MRI — This is a closed MRI machine with double strength magnetic fields producing very detailed images in a short time. This MRI is commonly used to identify signs of stroke, aneurysms, and tumors. It can also help to examine the heart and cardiovascular system for damage, disease, or blockages. It can look for conditions such as arthritis, disc disease, or bone infections and analyze internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, uterus, ovaries, and prostate.


How Do Open MRI Machines Work?

MRIs use powerful magnets to produce a strong magnetic field that forces protons in the body, found in the water that makes up all living tissue, to align with the magnetic field. Then, a radiofrequency current is pulsed through the patient. That stimulates and excites the protons, causing them to spin and strain against the pull of the field. When the radiofrequency field is turned off, the MRI sensors can detect the energy released as the protons realign within the magnetic field.

The time it takes to realign and the amount of energy released help physicians tell the difference between different types of tissue based on the magnetic properties. Using these techniques, an open MRI provides important diagnostic imaging that can lead to early detection and treatment of disease.


Closed vs Open MRI Machines

The closed MRI machine is like a long tube with a table that slides in and out of the tube. The tube is narrow, and the machine completely envelopes the patient

In contrast, an open MRI machine is more like a simple ring or doughnut shape, open on all four sides. The patient lies on a table which passes through the ring, while the patient lies down comfortably during the process.


When Should You Use an Open MRI?

MRI scanners are especially well suited for imaging the non-bony parts of the body and for the diagnostic imaging of soft tissues, and if you don’t like being in enclosed spaces you may want to consider an open MRI. With the advent of the open MRI, imaging centers are able to accommodate anxious patients with claustrophobia and make them feel comfortable.


To learn more or to set up an appointment, contact us today. At American Health Imaging, we have top notch MRI equipment including open MRI options, and we can provide results quicker and more affordably than the hospital.