While many people haven't had an MRI, chances are you might have to get one at some point. We know that being told by your doctor that you need to get an MRI can be a little overwhelming - especially if you’ve never had one before. Fortunately, there's no need to fear because getting an MRI is a very simple procedure and there is plenty of information out there so you don't go in blind folded. Here are the two main options when it comes to your MRI experience--the open MRI and the closed MRI.
So 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.
MRIs aren't scary and it shouldn't cause you anxiety simply thinking of undergoing the procedure. Hopefully after reading this we were able to either calm your nerves or simply inform you about your options. If you're currently in need of an MRI or simply have follow up questions to this blog, contact us here. We would love to assist you in any of your medical imaging needs!