If you have claustrophobia, you may have difficulty tolerating a standard MRI test. Patients feel as if they cannot escape from the tube. An open MRI machine provides a more open structure with nothing on the sides. This option also may help patients who are obese. Before you opt for this option, learn about the advantages and disadvantages of open MRI.
Your doctor has chosen MRI because the technology provides clear, high-contrast images that best diagnose your condition. Short of having surgery, MRI allows the best method of visualizing tumors, joint problems, infections, and vascular issues. Other methods such as x-rays or CT scans may not work as well. MRI scanners use radio waves to produce images while you are positioned in the magnetic field.
MRI tests require you to remain still and calm. If you cannot, the images will not turn out well. In the past, people with claustrophobia would need to be sedated in order to have a MRI. The open MRI offers relief from the closed-in feeling without medication. The machine is well-lit, not dark, and feels less confining.
Open MRI machines may not be quite as accurate as closed machine scans. Closed machines have more powerful and even magnetic fields. However, the images are still detailed and adequate for diagnostic purposes. That’s a blessing if you are among the five percent of Americans with claustrophobia. You’ll also need to be mindful of contraindications that apply to all MRI testing. If you have any metal in your body from implants, bullets, or tattoos, inform your doctor and your technologist. Often they can still do the testing with modified procedures. Kidney and liver problems may cause issues with contrast dyes.
Open MRI technology offers a great alternative to traditional closed MRI for many patients. Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor, and decide if this route works best for you.