If you require an MRI scan and choose to visit a Private Centre, it is important to understand the types of scanner available.
This is particularly so if you are claustrophobic and cannot tolerate closed spaces, or if you require a specialist upright weight-bearing examination including imaging in different positions.
The system is also much quieter than conventional MRI which also helps reduce the stress experienced during the examination.
What is important for claustrophobic patients is that this truly open system enhances your comfort for an anxiety-free examination as there is nothing in front of your face. You can walk into the scanner, and can even watch TV whilst being scanned.
The additional benefit is that you can be examined in any position, the most common position being seated erect. The design of the system means that weight-bearing and variable patient positioning is possible, and it has the unique ability to scan the spine or joints in flexion or extension.
There can be some confusion caused as many “Open scanners” are not fully open at all. You would lie between two magnetic poles, often referred to as a “double doughnut” format. The distance between the upper and lower poles vary but are typically only around 38-43 cm.
Weight-bearing imaging and functional studies of the spine are not possible. You would have the upper pole layer in front of your face, as the system is only open at the sides.
You would lie down within a tube or tunnel, where the free diameter inside varies from 55cm to 70cm. You will be completely enclosed. Due to the relative narrowness of the tube, functional studies of the spine are not possible other than perhaps limited functional studies of the neck. Weight-bearing imaging is not possible.
These systems are also relatively noisy, necessitating the use of headphones or ear plugs.