What Exactly Is An MRI?
Diagnostic imaging scans can be foreign and often not concerning for the everyday patient until their doctor recommends a scan. We understand that MRI scans can be intimidating when a physician initially recommends one. Our team at Carlsbad Open MRI is here to give you the rundown on MRI’s and the difference between the different types of MRI machines.
So first and foremost, what is an MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI scanner allows physicians to look inside the body without using surgery, harmful dyes, or X-rays. The MRI scanner uses magnets, radio waves and computers to produce very clear images of the human anatomy. MRIs give better images than any other diagnostic imaging equipment out there.
Luckily, there are now a couple different options when you go for an MRI depending on your preferences and the recommendation of your doctor.
The picture on the left is what’s known as an Open MRI, and is more frequently used by larger or more athletically built patients - although those who experience claustrophobia and/or anxiety would also see this as a preferable option. It has a large frontal opening and allows for slight movement during the procedure (unlike a closed MRI). It’s also a lot quieter due to the fact that it’s not surrounding you like the plastic cone that your dog had put on after his last surgery, so sound waves can scatter around the rest of the room and dull the noise.
One of the drawbacks to the Open MRI is that the magnets used generally aren’t as powerful as those in a Closed MRI. Thus, the images aren’t as high in quality or resolution, but they are high enough in quality that the doctor can still get a good read.
The picture on the right is what’s known as the traditional or Closed MRI, and being inside one can feel like a scene straight out of Star Trek. This machine is shaped like a donut and you lie horizontally on a table and enter the machine headfirst through the sliding table. Once in, you are enclosed on all sides. Occasionally there will be a screen in front of you to watch a video, and frequently the patient will be given a buzzer to press if they ever feel uncomfortable. As always, it’s a totally painless procedure and is usually completed in about an hour.
The downsides are that it can be very noisy (although certain centers offer the option to watch TV or listen to Pandora radio through headphones), and being enclosed may be a little unsettling at first. Also, because of the power of the magnets, you have to lie extremely still or the images could come out blurry.
Talk to your doctor to decide which MRI scanner is best for you. If you need an Open MRI, Carlsbad Open MRI is ACR Accredited, which means we provide the best imaging care to our patients. Give us a call with any MRI questions, we’d be happy to answer them!