What Is an Open MRI?
Few medical tools are more important when diagnosing concussions, ligament tears, disease, and similar conditions and trauma than a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or MRI) machine. An MRI is a non-invasive way of producing highly detailed images of internal organs.
They work by exciting and detecting changes in the protons found in the water, which makes up living tissue. The magnets in the MRI machine are powerful, exerting a magnetic pull on protons, which forces them out of their equilibrium.
This produces a release of energy and images which doctors are then able to interpret, helping them to diagnose a wide range of critical conditions and prescribe potentially life-saving treatments.
For as game-changing as they have been, however, MRIs are not without their problems. Standard MRIs are enclosed tubes that hum while taking pictures of patients inside, which can be a nightmare for those who suffer from claustrophobia. Besides, some patients may not be able to fit into a standard MRI machine or else cannot handle being enclosed for other medical reasons.
In these cases, open MRIs can, like their standard counterparts, prove a gamechanger – and here’s how.
What is an Open MRI?
One of the defining features of a standard MRI is its long, narrow, confining tube. There are reasons for this shape, but as demonstrated above, it can be a nightmare for those who suffer from claustrophobia. It can also be quite tricky for the elderly, who may not be able to fit into and lie down on these tubes without feeling pain.
Open MRIs, on the other hand, are just what they sound like – MRIs without the long, narrow body. Instead, they are open on some or all sides. Not only does this allow patients to be spared the uncomfortable process of being placed into a narrow tube, but it makes the units easier to transport.
This can be extremely helpful in the case of clients who cannot make it to a standard MRI machine. While they are typically used in hospitals or similar locations, open MRI machines generally more portable making them easier to use for in-home emergency scans.
Different Types of Open MRIs
One thing to keep in mind when considering open MRIs is that they are not all the same. On the contrary, there are several different types of open MRIs, each with their own advantages.
Some open MRI scans are specially designed to perform brain scans. This is notable because such scans are one of the key advantages of standard MRIs, as the closed space makes it easier to get a complete and accurate image of the cranial area. Even so, there are several open MRIs that are adept at conducting brain, sinus, and spinal scans.
In addition, MRIs for shoulders, knees, and limbs are open in such a way as to allow the patient to place their limb in the machine without enclosing them entirely.
Open MRI Scans
Some of the conditions which can be scanned with an open MRI include the following:
- Head scans for conditions such as aneurysms, concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries.
- Chest scans for cardio checks as well as conditions such as lung or breast cancer.
- Abdominal scans for tumors as well as pancreatic, liver, and kidney issues.
- Bone scans for arthritis and ligament tears.
- Spinal scans for tumors as well as herniated or bulging discs that often occur after a work-related injury or auto accidents.
Not all conditions can be treated equally by standard and open MRIs, however. The type of magnetic resonance which is required for the imaging produced by an MRI can sometimes be more accurate in a closed unit. This may be helpful in capturing more minute and subtle images. So too is the symmetry offered by standard units, whereas open MRIs are usually asymmetrical due to their openness.
That said, the comfort and potential portability of open MRI machines make them a valuable alternative.
What are the Benefits of Open MRI?
One of the most significant benefits of an open MRI is being able to avoid the noise of a standard MRI. If you suffer from headaches, this noise may seem unbearable. Brooklyn Open MRI can spare you this unpleasantness, ensuring that you aren’t surrounded by loud humming. Some machines are even designed in such a way as to allow patients to wear headphones during the procedure.
This can be especially useful when it comes to pediatric imaging. Children who are facing conditions that have forced them to undergo an MRI may already be feeling a great deal of stress.
The closed, loud, claustrophobic feeling of an MRI can be disconcerting, especially to small children. Open MRIs thus allow children to get the resonance scanning they need for proper diagnoses without having to suffer from the anxieties which may arise from going through a closed MRI.
Another potential concern for standard MRIs which is solved by Open MRIs is the question of the patient’s weight. Patients who weigh too much may be unable to use a standard MRI.
By contrast, open MRIs are often able to distribute weight more easily. What’s more, the narrow shape of a standard MRI can make it difficult for obese patients to fit inside. Open MRIs thus allow these patients the comfort, dignity, and treatment they deserve.
That point about comfort isn’t an idle one. MRI scans can last for quite a long time, ranging anywhere from forty minutes to two hours or more. Discomfort over such a long period of time isn’t just torturously uncomfortable, but also a potential source of mental anguish.
What’s more, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, so if you’re left in an uncomfortable position for too long, it could theoretically cause you additional physical harm. Open MRIs thus cut down on the risk of that happening.
Then there’s the fact that open MRIs can be quite useful for diagnosing auto accident, work-related or sports injuries. If you play sports or follow sports, chances are you are all too familiar with the risk of concussions and ligament tears in professional athletics. When players suffer from such injuries, it is important to get them an MRI scan as quickly as possible.
However, certain injuries can delay recovery. For example, a victim of a car accident who is unable to put weight on their back or limbs may not be able to lay down on a close MRI without suffering severe discomfort. If they move as a result of that discomfort, it could spoil the imaging.
Open imaging can be of immense help in these cases, allowing doctors to slip the affected limb into the MRI machine without risking further discomfort or damage while boasting a great deal of accuracy.
Overall, the most significant advantage of open MRIs is their flexibility. As all of these scenarios show, there are many reasons why patients may not be able to or maybe uncomfortable with undergoing a traditional MRI scan. Open MRIs allow these patients to get the help they need without the downsides of a standard closed MRI machine.
That’s important because the imaging which can be obtained from an MRI scan can save lives. MRIs are one of the most important medical tools to come out of the last few decades. Open MRIs allow more patients to reap their benefits and, as a result, get the treatment they need!
If you are looking for a top Open MRI in Brooklyn, call (718) 769-2521 today to schedule your appointment! We are conveniently located at 3500 Nostrand Ave in Brooklyn, NY; most insurance plans are accepted and same-day appointments may be available.