Advantages and Disadvantages of Open MRI

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open MRI

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a diagnostic equipment that’s used for the scanning and collection of detailed information about the organs and tissues in our body. When patients are positioned inside a cylindrical tube for examination, the process is known as Closed MRI. However, this type of MRI scan can cause claustrophobic reactions when obese or heavy set patients are placed in the diagnostic machine.

On the other hand, Open MRI, where the patient is placed in between two plates, is a good option for obese and claustrophobic people who are nervous and scared of closed MRI procedures. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of open MRI

Advantages of Open MRI

  1. Obese patients and claustrophobics can be better accommodated in open MRI.
  2. Open MRI is particularly useful for older patients who feel uncomfortable getting examined in closed-type equipment.
  3. Kids who fear going inside the tunnel-like equipment will feel comfortable with open MRI diagnosis machines.
  4. Orthopedic patients will also benefit from open MRI. Body extremities such as the shoulder, the wrist, hand, foot, and ankle that are difficult to position in a closed MRI equipment, can be comfortably centered and scanned in the open MRI procedure.
  5. Advanced open MRIs can provide more accurate results as the patient will go through the procedure in a relaxed state, without much anxiety.
  6. The other important advantage of undergoing an open MRI is that the patients will never feel tensed or lonely during the investigation process as their loved ones are allowed to stay beside them.
  7. An MRI of the cervical spine will scan the soft tissues of the neck and help diagnose the problems like tumors, and disc issues.

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Disadvantages of Open MRI

Though using open MRI results in a comfortable experience for the patient, radiologists find that these MRIs machines deliver images that are not clear, and of low quality, when compared with those of closed MRIs. This is because the closed MRI equipment is cylindrical in shape, and the magnet in the machine surrounds the patient’s entire body.

  1. Closed MRIs which are also called as traditional MRIs are termed as the accurate MRIs. Doctors usually prefer closed MRIs as they provide detailed images which in turn help them in diagnosing the problem effectively.
  2. In closed MRIs, the patient is sent completely into the chamber and this helps in scanning the patient from all angles, which helps in taking images of the entire body if necessary. This is not possible using open MRIs as the patients will only be placed between two plates for scanning.
  3. The open MRI scanner is open on four sides and the magnetic strength is spread across the bottom and top, therefore image quality will be poor. Apart from the reduced image quality, the scanning process also takes longer time when compared to that of closed MRI.
  4. As the radiologist has to examine the entire spine for a detailed study of the cervical spine problem faced by the patient, closed MRI is preferred.
  5. In closed MRI, a patient with cervical spine problem is sent into the chamber for diagnosis, using a magnet in that surrounds the cylindrical tube. This helps in scanning the entire spine efficiently. However, this detailed study is not possible using open MRI as the equipment can take images only from the bottom and top. Due to this, the quality of images will be low and it might not scan the soft tissues.

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Though usually the quality of the images or scanning is based on the magnetic strength, the quality also depends on the design of the equipment.

Closed MRI, as the name suggests is closed from all angles, which helps in scanning the patient’s body effectively, and provides excellent image quality. The time taken for diagnosis process will also below as it has higher magnetic strength.

However, depending on the type of patients, radiologists prefer open MRIs too. If the patient is uncomfortable when sent into the chamber, the images could be of low quality as the patient tends to breathe heavily due to anxiety. Most patients, especially those who are obese, and kids cannot remain still for long, which results in low-quality images.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad