What Is The Difference Between A Closed and Open MRI?

A magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) scan is a diagnostic test used to diagnose injuries and diseases, including those resulting from work-related trauma and auto accidents. Doctors also order MRIs to check on the progress after an injury.

This is a common diagnostic test, with the U.S. performing 118 MRIs per 1,000 people in 2016. While the test is standard, there is still some confusion about the difference between an open and closed MRI.

If you are about to get an MRI, learn the difference so you will be prepared.

The Position of the MRI Magnets

The main difference between a closed and open MRI is the position of the magnets used to capture the images. A closed MRI is what most people think of when it comes to this diagnostic imaging test. The scanner is shaped like a capsule, with magnets surrounding the patient. Patients slide into the MRI machine, and the surrounding magnets take images.

An open MRI has a different shape. Instead of being shaped like a capsule, it is open on the sides. The magnets are placed on the top and bottom of the machine. It allows the scan to get the necessary images without closing in the patient

MRI Magnet Strength

The magnet strength is also different regarding closed and open MRIs. The strength is measured in Tesla (T) units, with an open MRI having a strength of 0.2 to 0.3 T.

A closed MRI has a stronger magnet strength, measuring in at 1.0 to 3.0 T. The stronger magnet strength allows these machines to take sharper, more detailed images than open MRIs can.

Pros and Cons of Closed MRIs

Closed MRIs provide patients with pros and cons to consider. The benefits of using a closed MRI include better image quality and the ability to diagnose more conditions, such as hepatic metastases and lesions in multiple sclerosis.

Closed MRIs also have some drawbacks. Staying still for the duration of the test is hard for some people, and the system is loud. Also, if you are obese or claustrophobic, you will have trouble with a closed MRI. This is a big problem in the United States, where obesity rates stand at over 40 percent.

Pros and Cons of an Open MRI

Like a closed MRI, an open MRI has pros and cons to consider. Because these systems are open, obese, and claustrophobic persons can easily get MRI scans. This makes it easier for more people to get the tests they need.  They are much quieter than closed MRIs, and technicians can tilt the machine to focus on a specific body part. Also, open MRIs typically cost less than closed MRIs do.

The lower image quality can be an issue for some conditions, and an open MRI cannot take images of some areas of the body because the magnets aren’t on the sides.

Which MRI Test Is Right for You?

If you need an MRI, your healthcare provider will choose which one is right for you.  However, if you have concerns about getting a standard MRI due to claustrophobia or obesity, share those with your doctor.

If you suffered a work-related injury or auto accident call (888) 590-4030 to find an MRI facility or an experienced workers’ comp doctor near you. No-Fault, Workers’ Compensation, and Medical Liens are accepted. Same-day appointments are available. Don’t delay, call now, and get on your way to recovery.