A new option for MRI scans is an upright MRI machine. In this type of machine, the person is sitting or standing in the machine and can be positioned in several ways. If you have pain while standing or sitting, but not while laying down, the technician can put you in the position that causes your pain so the doctor can see exactly what may be causing your pain. They are different from a traditional scanning machine in that they are open and the person will not feel an anxious or scared when they can see what is going on. In the closed MRI machines, the person must lie still on a table and be pulled into the machine. If they begin to get upset, it can take a few minutes to get them out of the machine. In an upright MRI, there is no problem with claustrophobia and less anxiety.
Most people think only of the tunnel type machine and have never heard of upright or open machines. However, the newer machines are still hard to find and there may not be one in the area where you live. If you are interested in an upright MRI, talk to your doctor when you find out that you need an MRI.
Upright MRIs are faster than enclosed MRIs. The machines are flexible so you can be put in any position needed to get the required scans. You can even watch TV while having an upright MRI done. Any scan that the doctor needs can be done by an upright MRI. You may also have someone in the room with you while the scan is being done. Most MRIs take between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on what your doctor has ordered.
A dynamic MRI may be ordered by your doctor to see what happens when dye is used. The dynamic contrast enhanced MRI takes continuous images before, during and after the injection of the contrast agent. This is especially helpful for people with tumors so the doctors can see how the blood flows around and in the tumor.
The biggest disadvantage of the upright MRI is that you are more likely to move while the test is being done. Because you may be in a position that causes pain, you will be unsteady, even if you are sitting. Any movement will cause blurry images and if the scan is too blurry, you will need to have the MRI redone.
The advantages can outweigh the disadvantages in an upright machine. The openness will help those with claustrophobia and children and being able to have someone in the room with you can help pass the time quicker. When your doctor prescribes an MRI, ask if an upright MRI is an option for you. You can also call the hospital or testing facility to ask if you can use an upright MRI for your scan.
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