Open and Closed MRI Techniques: Which may be Right for You?

Open and Closed MRI Techniques: Which may be Right for You? | GO Imaging | Houston TXThe idea of medical testing can be daunting, regardless of whether your doctor has requested lab work or some imaging. We understand that being told you need an MRI may cause stress. Many people have a certain perception of MRI screening as being uncomfortable; not on a physical level, but on a psychological level due to the technique used to capture vital information.

It is true that, MRI screening has involved lying comfortably on a table that would then enter into a tube where high-strength magnets created a magnetic field. This configuration, while advantageous for medical diagnostics, presents problems for patients who struggle with feelings of claustrophobia. In the Humble location of GO Imaging, patients have the opportunity to choose a different technique: open MRI. Here, we want to take a look at each.

Closed MRI

The closed MRI machine is a tunnel configuration. The machine uses radio waves to create images in computer software within the scanner. The advantage that we have with closed scanners is that these machines are higher field strengths, ranging from .5 to 3.0 tesla (magnet strength). Higher field strength equates to more detail within the images obtained, and greater variability for body areas that may be observed through imaging.

Physicians and x-ray technicians are well aware of the concerns that patients may have about MRI testing. In instances where closed MRI is necessary, stress-relief techniques may be employed. These include breathing techniques, having a friend or family member present in the facility, and the use of sedation when appropriate.

Open MRI

The open magnet configuration has no tube. Instead, the scanner has panels of magnets in between which the patient may be situated. Patients still lie on a table for screening. The table is then moved into place between the upper and lower panels. The two sides are open. Understandably, patients who are concerned about claustrophobic sensations may prefer this technique. However, the field strength of open MRI scanners is lower (up to .3 tesla) and so may not be appropriate in every situation.

MRI screening provides medical personnel with valuable information about interior structures such as joints without the need for surgery simply to observe such parts of the body. The team at GO Imaging is committed to patient comfort during screenings, and to prompt reporting to physicians’ offices. Learn more about our services by contacting our Humble or Houston office.

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To learn more about an open or closed MRI or to schedule a consultation, please call 713.874.0111

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