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Open MRI vs. Closed MRI

Last updated 6 years ago

MRIs provide a helpful diagnostic tools for a variety of conditions. Unlike CT scans or X-rays, MRIs show soft tissue, like muscles, the brain, and the heart. Back specialists, for example, can use MRI scans to understand the underlying problems causing back and neck pain.

There are two types of MRI to choose from: open MRIs and closed MRIs. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between the two.

Closed MRIs

Closed MRIs are the traditional type of MRI, so they’re probably what you picture when you think of an MRI. It’s a large machine that encloses you completely as it uses magnetic field to image parts of your body. Because of the enclosed nature of the MRI machine, many patients feel claustrophobic or at least uncomfortable. This may also make it difficult to scan those who are pregnant or obese. However, closed MRIs have a very high resolution, and the images can show very thin slices for small body parts. The stronger magnetic field also means that the test is faster.

Open MRIs

Open MRIs have both advantages and disadvantages. Their design is much different from the open MRI; instead of a closed machine, the open MRI has two large rounded horizontal disks, which the patient lies between. Because there are no sides, it’s great for those who suffer from claustrophobia, and is a good choice for pregnant women and obese patients. However, most open MRIs have a weaker magnetic field strength, which means that studies may take longer and won’t be as clear.

Back specialists, like those at SpineOne, use MRI studies to treat back and neck pain. If you suffer from lower back pain or neck pain, then call us at (303) 367-2225 to schedule an appointment.


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