Dealing with any kind of medical diagnosis and treatment can be stressful. It’s not uncommon for patients to experience some level of anxiety. Even safe, radiation-free tests like MRI scans can make some people very uncomfortable.
Despite the fact an MRI is painless, some patients struggle with fear leading up to a scan. Claustrophobic patients, and even people who aren’t typically bothered by small spaces, sometimes experience anxiety when entering the bore of a traditional MRI scanner. The good news is that there’s another option for patients who get anxious during MRI scans.
A high-field open MRI scan is a uniquely designed alternative to traditional diagnostic imaging. A typical MRI machine slides patients into an enclosed tube that’s about 23.5 inches wide. An open MRI, on the other hand, eliminates the tube entirely, allowing patients to obtain scans without entering an enclosed area.
The Benefits of Open MRI Scans
Because the shape of the open MRI is so different, it can accommodate a wider variety of patients. Patients struggling with anxiety aren’t the only ones who can benefit from an open MRI. Broad shouldered or overweight patients may not fit or feel comfortable in the restrictive space of a traditional MRI machine—and no one wants to feel crammed into a medical device.
Many open MRI also come equipped with an emergency stop button as well. If a patient still isn’t comfortable and unable to finish a scan, they can press a button, stop the the scan, and be removed from the machine.
The High-Field MRI: Improving Image Quality in Quick Diagnostic Imaging
In the past, the image quality and scan time for open MRIs weren’t as comparable to traditional scans. But now, patients don’t have to feel like they’re choosing comfort and peace of mind over quality. High-Field, Open MRIs produce the same level of image quality, and scans can be completed in about 60 minutes. These types of scans go much quicker, and are less likely to be interrupted or paused when patients are able to relax.
To know which scan is best for you, your radiologist should ask you specific questions before your appointment. If they don’t, be sure you take the lead and find out everything you can about the scan. Also, don’t feel nervous about discussing any fears or concerns you may have. The more your doctor and technician know, the better your experience during the scan will be.