Benefits of an Open MRI versus Closed MRI

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If you have need of a diagnostic imaging center in Flushing, NY, you’ve probably heard that there are two distinct types of MRI modernly available. One is referred to as an “open” MRI, while the other is said to be closed. What are the differences of these machines, and are there benefits of an open versus closed MRI?


The primary – and only – difference between the two machines is that an open MRI is, well, open. Traditional machines (“closed”) require patients to lay on their backs and enter a small, closed-off tunnel. Inside, the machine will take the images it needs before allowing the patient to exit via the sliding bed they are laying upon.

Open machines, sometimes also called open-air MRI’s, essentially do the same thing. Except they have done away with the closed off tunnel.

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The key benefits in using the open machine is for those who feel claustrophobic or dislike small spaces. In the past, these individuals would have to be mildly sedated to avoid panic upon entering the tunnel. Now, however, the feeling of suffocation associated with claustrophobia is greatly diminished or done away with entirely.

Another class of individuals who benefit are those who are excessively tall or overweight. Older machines had a very specific threshold on what the patient could weigh and did not quite suit those who are significantly taller than normal standards. Open machines are capable of accommodating people of a higher weight and/or height.

Does It Matter Which I Choose?

For some people it does not matter which machine you choose, as they both do a wonderful job of getting the necessary images to assist in your diagnosis. If you are overweight, excessively tall, or suffer from claustrophobia, you will want to choose an open machine for a much better experience.

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