What to Expect from Different Types of MRI Machines
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines use a combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create three-dimensional images of soft tissue and structures inside the body. Several different types of MRI machines are available, and one is not better than another. Every type can provide your doctor with useful images to diagnose or manage several health conditions. Still, differences between people and types of MRI machines may make one a better fit for you and another a better fit for someone else.
Choosing the right MRI machine for you
Your doctor will decide which type of MRI machine is best in your case based on your:
- Body type
- Condition or symptoms
- Medical history
- Positioning needs
Additionally, different types of MRI machines can create a stronger magnetic field than others. A stronger magnetic field may be needed in some cases, while a weaker field can be more beneficial in others.
The experience of having an MRI scan with different machines also varies. For example, some equipment tends to be louder than others. Similarly, some MRI machines require a person to lie down, while others allow for different positions.
The different types of MRI machines
A traditional MRI machine, has a flat table that slides in and out of a tube with a round opening. The opening, or hole, in the tube, is called a bore. For the scan, you lie down on the table. Your position in the tube is based on the type of image your doctor ordered. Sometimes Velcro straps are also used to hold a specific body part in place on the table.
During the scan, the MRI machine makes a lot of different noises, including some that are very loud. The technologist will offer headphones to lessen the noise and offer to listen to your favorite music to help the time pass quickly. They may also give you instructions that you’ll hear through the headphones, such as asking you to hold your breath or stay still during a scan.
Even though you are never entirely enclosed in the MRI machine, being in the bore can make some people feel anxious or claustrophobic. Talk with your doctor if you often feel afraid or nervous in small spaces. They may be able to order a scan using a different type of MRI machine. Or they might recommend techniques to help you manage your anxiety during the scan.
A wide-bore MRI machine works just like a traditional MRI machine. The difference is that wide-bore MRI machines have a larger bore usually around 70cm. This can make the scan more comfortable and decrease anxiety or feelings of claustrophobia. It is also more accessible and comfortable for people with a larger body type. American Health Imaging offers MRI machines with the widest bores available in the United States.
An open MRI machine has a flat table like a traditional MRI machine but is open on the sides. This increases comfort and accessibility for larger patients and patients with claustrophobia. An open MRI is also quieter than a traditional MRI. It is an excellent option for many but may not provide optimal positioning or magnetic field strength for all patients.
Upright MRI machines are open on the sides. They also allow you to bend over, sit, or stand during the MRI scan. During an upright MRI scan, you stand against a table that tilts back slightly to add support and prevent you from moving. Like the open MRI, it is quieter than a traditional MRI.
One benefit of an upright MRI is the ability to take images while putting weight on a particular body part. For example, if you have a knee injury and have an MRI scan done while standing in an upright MRI, the doctor can see the effects of gravity on the joint.
These types of MRI machines may also be a good option for people who:
- Are unable to stand unassisted for long periods
- Have difficulty balancing while standing
- Need assistance with transfers
- Use a wheelchair
An open MRI machine has a flat table like a traditional MRI machine but is open on the sides. This increases comfort and accessibility for people with larger body types and people with claustrophobia. An open MRI is also quieter than a traditional MRI. It is an excellent option for many but may not provide optimal positioning or magnetic field strength for everyone.
Advanced open MRI
There are only a handful of advanced open MRI machines by ASG in the United States, including one at our locations in Decatur, GA and San Antonio, TX. These machines are entirely open above, behind, and in front of you. They also allow you to have the scan done while you are bending, lying down, sitting, or standing and enable the doctor to see the effects of gravity on the body.
The openness of the advanced open MRI machine can decrease anxiety and make you more relaxed. Additionally, the positioning flexibility makes it ideal for people with a variety of needs.
Request an appointment for an MRI at one of our convenient locations.