Open MRI: Worry Free MRI

What is an Open MRI?

Open MRI machine with doctor and patientImagine getting an MRI scan without having to squirm inside a metal tube for  an hour! Whether you’re anxious or even claustrophobic, an you can get an Open MRI without being in an enclosed machine.

There are several types of open MRI machines. Instead of a tunnel-like machine, some open machines look like a ring that only part of the body is in at one time. There are also machines that the person lays on the table and is slid under the scanner. Other options include sitting or standing up machines.

One complaint is that, sometimes, the quality of the MRI is not as good as with the typical machine. New technologies are improving the picture quality and all of the machines sold now can take the same quality scans that closed machines do. The scans from older machines are good enough to see potential problems and if needed, a traditional enclosed scan can be done to pinpoint a smaller, specific area.


Open MRI Machine woman sitting

Open MRIs are advantageous for those who get anxious in small spaces or have claustrophobia. The open machine allows them to see around and not be enclosed in a tight area for a long period of time.


Getting an open MRI scan allows parents to talk to and see their children throughout the exam so the child may stay calmer. Open MRIs also offer faster screening and this minimizes the need for sedation for children who need to have an MRI. This helps keep both the parent and child relaxed.

Large Size

Another advantage of open MRI machines is for people who are too large for traditional machines. Obese people cannot use a closed MRI machine because of their size, so an open machine is the only way to get a scan for them.

When the doctor tells you that you need an MRI, you can request an open MRI scanner. Because it is a newer technology and the machines are expensive, there may not be an open machine available in your city. Although most MRI scanners that are sold now are open machines, few of the machines are available, even in large cities. The cost for an open MRI should be the same as a normal MRI scan. Most insurances cover at least part of the cost of the test. An open MRI machine is definitely the right choice for many people.

T. Jankowski lives in San Francisco. Find him on Twitter and . His latest direction is learning about health and blogging about MRI scans. He's quite the biotech explorer, including designing lab equipment like a blue light transilluminator and PCR machines, and co-founding BioCurious, the largest hackerspace for biotech.

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