What Is an Open MRI?

September 17, 2018 – 4 min read

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What Is an Open MRI?

MRI is a safe, non-invasive way to see the body’s internal structures. MRI technology uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce images that help with early detection and treatment of disease. The images give a clear picture of the body’s muscles, organs and other soft tissues. An MRI in comparison with other diagnostic imaging techniques is beneficial because it eliminates the need for damaging radiation.

A doctor will often order an MRI for important health screenings or to diagnose a condition. You may need an MRI for breast cancer screening or a brain scan or to check for heart damage. Although the exam is relatively painless, many people avoid having an MRI at all costs. Being in an enclosed machine can trigger anxiety or a panic attack for anyone with claustrophobia. For years, a traditional closed MRI was the only option for these people. Now, technology has advanced to a whole new level.

American Health Imaging (AHI) proudly offers the Advanced Open MRI by ASG in select locations across the southeast. This innovative technology allows you to complete your exam in an open and upright machine, instead of a closed tunnel, while still capturing quality images for your medical team.

How Do Open MRI Machines Work?

MRIs use powerful magnets to produce a strong magnetic field that forces protons in the body, found in the water that makes up all living tissue, to align with the magnetic field. Then, a radiofrequency current is pulsed through the patient. That stimulates and excites the protons, causing them to spin and strain against the pull of the field. When the radiofrequency field is turned off, the MRI sensors can detect the energy released as the protons realign within the magnetic field.

The time it takes to realign, and the amount of energy released, help physicians tell the difference between different types of tissue based on the magnetic properties. Using these techniques, an open MRI provides important diagnostic imaging that can lead to early detection and treatment of disease.

What Does an Open MRI Look Like?

An open MRI machine is shaped as a ring or doughnut. Unlike a traditional closed MRI, this option, as its name suggests, completely open on all four sides. To enter the machine, a person lies on a table that passes through the ring. They will need to lie still during the exam, because movement will blur the images. The generated images may be less detailed than those from a closed MRI, but this is a great option for those with claustrophobia.

AHI also offers wide-bore MRI exams. A wide-bore MRI machine is similar to a closed MRI, but the opening is several inches higher for improved comfort. When you lie in the machine, the top of the machine will not be as close to your face as the top of a closed MRI would be.

Want to find out more? Learn more differences between an Advanced Open MRI and wide-bore MRI.

Who Should Have an Open MRI?

  • Anyone who dislikes tight spaces—If enclosed spaces lead to anxiety or a panic attack, this screening is for you. Claustrophobia shouldn’t stop you from receiving important diagnostic testing. An Advanced Open MRI eliminates claustrophobia for patients during an MRI exam. With the open-air design, a person can still see around the room or even watch TV.
  • Children—Open MRIs are a good option for children who need diagnostic testing. The open atmosphere allows a child to hold a parent’s or guardian’s hand and feel more at ease during the test.
  • People with sports or car accident injuries—The Advanced Open MRI technology allows every part of the body to be imaged in a weight-bearing state. This captures the effect of gravity on the body and allows the person to be positioned where they are experiencing the most pain.
  • People who need images in different positions—With the Advanced Open MRI, a person can be scanned in extension, flexion, rotation and lateral bending positions. These different positions can’t be captured when someone is lying down in a traditional MRI.

How Much Does an Open MRI Cost?

The average MRI can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $4,000. At AHI, our prices are up to 75% lower than what you would pay at a hospital or hospital-owned imaging center. The average AHI MRI costs $500. You are also billed in a single all-inclusive bill.

Use our Benefits Checker Tool to estimate your out-of-pocket cost for an open MRI. 

Who Has an Open MRI Near Me?

AHI currently offers Advanced Open MRIs at our Decatur, Georgia, and San Antonio, Texas, locations.

Decatur, GA

American Health Imaging Decatur

Request an appointment online or call us at (404) 292-2277.

San Antonio, TX

American Health Imaging Westover Hills

Request an appointment online or call us at (210) 305-8300.

American Health Imaging–Huebner Road

Request an appointment online or call us at (210) 696-0360.

American Health Imaging–Downtown

Request an appointment online or call us at (210) 572-1211.

American Health Imaging San Antonio–Medical Center

Request an appointment online or call us at (210) 641-0111.

Don’t see your location available? Check out our other AHI locations that offer wide-bore MRI technology for your comfort.

This post was updated on 11/17/2020.