DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AN OPEN AND CLOSED MRI
Some diagnostic imaging centers have opted for an Open MRI system instead of the conventional closed MRI. It is important to understand the differences as well as advantages of each option. Here, we explore this for those that are unfamiliar.
The terms “open” and “closed” as it pertains to MRI, have to do with the shape of the magnets used in MRI scanners. As its name would indicate, a closed MRI, has a capsule-like design where the magnet surrounds the patient. An open MRI, to the contrary, has a magnet top and bottom, which allows for an opening on the sides.
MRI scanners are measured in magnet strength in teslas or “T”, which can range between 0.5T and 3.0T. As it regards to tesla strength, closed MRIs are known to reach as high as 3.0T, while open MRIs, generally reach 1.2T. The difference in strength is significant, but the quality of the exam does not only depend on magnet strength.
PATIENT COMFORT AND EXPERIENCE
An open MRI can decrease the risk of panic attacks and claustrophobia among patients. For some patients, this is the only option, but for the large majority, a closed MRI can offer an equal experience. Another factor that plays a part is the size of the patient. Very overweight patients may not properly fit into a closed MRI. One significant advantage to a closed MRI, is the imaging speed. Generally, the exam is performed a lot faster, allowing the patient to be finished and on with their day faster.
Both open or closed MRIs can provide accurate results. However, due to its design, in some cases an open MRI is not able to take images of certain areas of the body. Also, the images that are captured may be of lesser quality of that of a closed MRI. For this reason, certain scans must be taken with a closed MRI.
SO, WHICH ONE IS BEST?
This is a question that cannot easily be answered. As mentioned above, there are many factors that play a part. Ultimately, it is recommended that patients discuss the best option with their doctor and diagnostic imaging center to help choose the right MRI scan that suits their needs.
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