Open MRI

Get an Open MRI at American Health Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive way for doctors to view your body’s organs, muscles, and other internal structures. With a closed MRI, you’ll lie on a small table that slides into the narrow tube of the MRI machine. The small space within the machine doesn’t work for every patient. Many experience feelings of claustrophobia, feel pain from lying on their back, or can’t fit in the machine due to its size. Open MRI machines offer an alternative to closed MRI machines. These machines are less enclosed and many allow you to sit or stand instead of lying down, allowing anyone who can’t use a standard MRI machine to comfortably access the imaging they need.

How It Works

Like a closed MRI machine, an open MRI creates detailed images using magnets and radio waves. The difference between the two is their design. Open MRIs solve the “enclosed” feeling of closed MRI machines by leaving open space on the sides and/or front of the machine. With some open MRI machines, magnets are placed above and below you with open space on the sides. With others, you’ll sit, stand, or lie down with magnets on either side of you, giving you an unobstructed view forward. At American Health Imaging, we offer a variety of different open MRI machines. Our San Antonio, Texas; Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; and West Columbia, South Carolina locations offer open MRI machines that are multi-position (sitting, standing, bending, and lying down). In Beaumont, Texas, our open MRI machine is open on all sides and allows patients to lie down comfortably during their scan.

Find an American Health Imaging center offering Open MRI appointments near you!

Reasons for Open MRI

An open MRI is a great option for many patients who can’t or don’t want to use a closed MRI machine, as well as those who need to be imaged in a different position for diagnostic purposes. This can include people who:

  • Experience claustrophobia or anxiety
  • Can’t comfortably fit into a closed MRI machine
  • Experience pain when lying on their back for extended periods of time
  • Need to be upright during the scan for medical reasons, such as patients with COPD
  • Need to be in a different position to create high-quality imaging of a specific body part

Open MRIs also offer diagnostic advantages, such as allowing your doctor to get images of your spine’s compression when standing or what your body is doing when you’re feeling pain.

Patient Reviews

At American Health Imaging we provide a welcoming and comforting experience with helpful and friendly staff. See what our patients say.

Why Choose American Health Imaging

At American Health Imaging, we’re here to support you on your health journey. Our team of technologists uses state-of-the-art technology to give you clear images and partner board-certified, subspecialized radiologists provide quality readings, ensuring you have the best information possible to make your healthcare decisions.

We know you are busy. That’s why we provide convenient same-day and next-day appointments, as well as extended weekday and weekend hours at many locations to make sure you get the imaging you need, when you need it.

Open MRI Frequently Asked Questions

What does an open MRI machine look like?

This depends on the specific machine. Many open MRI machines have two large, circular magnets above and below the table with open space on either side. Others have similar magnets, but instead of being placed above and below you, they’re placed on each side of you. In either case, you’ll have plenty of open space next to or in front of you, reducing feelings of claustrophobia.

What’s the difference between open and closed MRIs?

With a closed MRI, you’ll lie on a table that slides into a narrow tube. In most cases, your body is fully enclosed, which can trigger feelings of claustrophobia in many people. These machines can also be so narrow that larger people may not fit inside.

Open MRIs don’t fully envelop you. Instead, the machines are left open either on the sides or in the front, making them more spacious and less anxiety-inducing for many people.

Which types of open MRI machines are available through American Health Imaging?

Each of our locations has different types of open MRI machines.

Open MRI machines that allow you to stand, sit, bend over, or lie down are available at our locations in:
• Birmingham, Alabama
• Atlanta, Georgia
• San Antonio, Texas

Open MRI machines that allow you to stand or lie down are available at our location in West Columbia, South Carolina.

Open MRI machines that offer open space on all sides while lying down are available at our location in Beaumont, Texas.

Are open MRIs as good as closed MRIs?

In general, yes! There are some conditions best diagnosed or monitored with a closed MRI, but for the vast majority of scans, an open MRI will provide the high-quality imaging your doctor needs. If you’re concerned, your doctor can tell you whether an open MRI is right for your specific situation.

What are the benefits of American Health Imaging’s open MRI machines?

Our open MRI machines can provide high-quality imaging that meets the needs of doctors and patients. 

Open MRI machines that allow imaging in multiple positions make it possible to scan your body in the position that causes problems. If bending over hurts your back or standing up hurts your knees, your doctor will be able to see what’s happening in your body when you’re in that position. There are similar benefits to our open MRI machines that allow sitting and lying down. 

For patients, these machines can also allow you to get imaging in a position that doesn’t cause you pain. Some patients aren’t able to lie down comfortably, especially for extended periods. Multi-position open MRIs make it possible to get imaging even for those who can’t lie in a traditional machine.

Our open MRI machine that’s open on all sides is especially comfortable for those who experience claustrophobia or anxiety. Because the magnets are placed above and below you, you won’t have to be inside the narrow tube of traditional MRI machines to receive your imaging.

How do I prepare for an open MRI?

Open MRI exams don’t require special preparation. Wear loose, comfortable clothes with no metal snaps or zippers, as metal can interfere with your MRI.

What happens during an open MRI?

Open MRIs are largely the same as closed MRI scans. Before your exam, you’ll be asked to remove any metal, like jewelry. Depending on the specific machine, you’ll either lie, sit, or stand between the machine’s magnets. Your technologist will be communicating with you throughout the scan, so if you’re feeling any discomfort, they can help.

Is an MRI safe?

Yes. MRI machines use magnets instead of radiation, making them a safer alternative for anyone concerned about the small amounts of radiation used in X-rays and CT scans. If you have any metal implants, like a pacemaker, you should talk to your doctor before receiving an MRI to ensure it’s safe for you.

Open MRIs are also safer for people with conditions like COPD, which can make it harder for them to breathe while lying flat in a closed MRI machine.

How long does an MRI take?

Most exams take 30 to 60 minutes, though this can change if you need contrast or multiple images.

How quickly will I get my results?

Radiologists review and interpret MRI scans as soon as the images are available.* Your doctor will receive a written report and copies of the images within 24 hours to a few days.

Do you need to schedule a Open MRI?

American Health Imaging offers same-day and next-day appointment options to make getting an imaging scan convenient. Get a referral from your doctor, find the American Health Imaging center closest to you, and then call to schedule an imaging appointment.