What is an Open MRI?

An Open MRI is a type of MRI machine that has a more spacious and open design, allowing for more comfort and less claustrophobia for the patients. Unlike a traditional closed MRI machine, which has a narrow tube-like structure, an Open MRI machine has a larger opening and a more open-sided structure, with magnets on both the top and bottom of the machine.

How does an Open MRI work?

An Open MRI works by using a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the internal structures of the body. The magnetic field aligns the hydrogen atoms in the body, and the radio waves cause them to emit signals. These signals are then detected by a coil and processed by a computer to form the images.

Preparation for an Open MRI

To prepare for an open MRI, you should follow these steps:

  • Inform your doctor if you have any metal implants, or have any health issues that may affect the MRI scan. Your doctor may prescribe you a sedative or advise you on the safety and suitability of the exam.
  • Take your medications as normal, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. You should also eat and drink normally, unless you are having an abdominal or pelvic MRI, in which case you may need to fast for 5 or more hours before the scan.
  • Remove any items that may contain metal, such as jewellery, watches, glasses, dentures, hairpins, etc. You may also need to change into a hospital gown or remove some clothing, depending on the area to be scanned.
  • You may also want to bring a friend or family member to accompany you, especially if you are going to be sedated.

Open MRI Procedure

You will be asked to lie down on a movable table that slides into the open MRI machine. You will need to remain very still and hold your breath at times during the scan. You may also hear some loud noises, such as thumping or tapping, which are normal. The scan may take from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the type and number of images needed.

What are the benefits of an Open MRI?

The benefits of an Open MRI include: 

  • It can accommodate different body types and sizes, as it has more space and less restrictions than a closed MRI machine.
  • It can reduce anxiety and claustrophobia, as it allows the patients to see the surrounding room and feel the air circulating.
  • It can provide more comfort and ease for the patients, as they can lie in a more natural position and move slightly during the scan.
  • It can be ideal for certain types of scans, such as brain scans, as it has a clear view of the scan area.

What are the limitations of an Open MRI?

Some of the limitations of an Open MRI are:

  • It may not produce as clear and high-quality images as a closed MRI machine, as it has a lower magnetic field strength and less uniformity.
  • It may not be suitable for some types of scans, such as spine scans, as it may have more artefacts and distortions due to the open design.
  • It may take longer to complete the scan, as it may require more repetitions and adjustments to obtain the optimal images.

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