3 Benefits of an Open vs. a Traditional MRI

Have you heard stories about people who couldn’t get an MRI because the narrow, confined space inside the MRI machine gave them anxiety or triggered an attack of claustrophobia?

Unfortunately, those stories are all too common, but we at the Headache & Pain Center have a solution. We use an open MRI machine, which eliminates the claustrophobic tunnel and allows us to get the diagnostic imaging we need to accurately diagnose the source of your pain.

We offer diagnostic MRI testing in our offices, where we proudly hold a gold seal of accreditation from the American College of Radiology. This award means that we meet the highest level of image quality and patient safety.

Difference between open and traditional MRIs

When you get a traditional MRI, your imaging is done in a closed machine. You lay down on a table and the table slides your body inside a tunnel that’s in the center of the MRI machine.

Once you’re in the device, you’re enclosed or surrounded by the machine. In closed MRIs, the size of the tunnel is small enough to cause anxiety, even if you’re not claustrophobic. In fact, the tunnel is so small that it can’t accommodate larger patients.

Open MRIs come in different shapes, but in all cases, the machine is open on at least one side and typically, on three or four sides. The advanced MRI we use at Headache & Pain Center is open on the sides and back of the machine.

Three benefits of an open MRI

These are the top three benefits of getting an open MRI:

More comfortable for you

MRIs are one of the most important diagnostic tools we have, but they don’t do any good if you can’t tolerate being inside the machine. An MRI can take an hour or longer to complete, so you should feel comfortable during the procedure.

The open spaces make it possible to get the detailed images we need without causing a panic attack or making you feel claustrophobic. And an open MRI machine allows patients of all sizes to get the diagnostic care they need.

Easier to position your body

The larger space and wider table of an open MRI make it easier for us to position your body and ensure we get the most accurate images. 

When you need a knee, leg, or hip MRI, you can go into the MRI scanner with your feet leading the way. This means your head doesn’t even need to go in the machine.

Open design helps you pass the time

With an open MRI, you can look around the exam room or watch television, which helps you pass the time and stay relaxed while the machine creates images.

Another advantage of the open design is that a family member can stay by your side. Whether you need the reassurance of someone being with you, or it helps to have someone to talk with and distract you, you have the option with an open MRI. That’s not possible with a traditional or closed MRI.

Open vs traditional MRI

Open MRIs work exceptionally well for diagnosing most health conditions. We can see nerve injuries, infections, swelling, early signs of arthritis, small ligament tears, and herniated discs in your spine, to give you just a few examples.

But a traditional or closed MRI is stronger. In rare cases, we need the strength of the closed machine to diagnose the condition of some of our patients.

To learn more about MRI services at the Headache & Pain Center or to get help with your ongoing pain, call us or schedule an appointment using our online tool. Our offices are located in New Iberia and Gray, Louisiana.

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