What is the difference between an open and closed MRI?
Open MRI’s have gained popularity because they provide more room for the patient. This is beneficial for highly claustrophobic patients who are unable to undergo a closed MRI. A closed MRI looks like a tube. Unfortunately, this tube is somewhat narrow — which is necessary to obtain high quality images. While open MRI’s are more spacious, in most cases the image quality is not comparable to a closed MRI. This is largely due to the fact that open MRI’s are significantly weaker “magnets” vs. closed MRI’s. And the strength of the “magnet” directly relates to the quality of the images.
There are various MRI unit designs. The most commonly used are the following: Short Bore Unit This newly designed high-field strength magnet offers both shorter exam times as well as greater patient comfort. The unit is donut-shaped, giving the claustrophobic patient a less confining environment. Large patients also benefit from the short, wide opening in the technology. Fortunately, despite these design enhancements, physicians can still expect the highest quality images. The new short-bore MRI has the ability to obtain high-resolution images 30 to 50 percent faster than traditional MRI. Open Unit The open MRI is a technological alternative to the closed unit for patients who suffer from claustrophobia, and some large patients may also choose the open unit for maximum comfort. The open MRI has clear, unobstructed space on all three sides, so patients can see and talk to staff during the exam. For pediatric patients, parents can sit by the child’s side during the exam to increase their