When most people think of an MRI, they think of lying still in a tiny space for an hour while a loud machine whirs around you. For many people, that might sound boring and uncomfortable – but for some who suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia, it can sound terrifying.
Thankfully, modern imaging technology has come up with some great alternatives to the traditional MRIs. We’ll walk you through the different types of MRI machines and give you the 4 facts you need to know before you get one.
First – what are the different types of machines used for MRIs?
A traditional MRI machine – that stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging – is a machine which can produce photos of inside your body using magnets and radio waves. The patient lies down on the flat surface and is slid inside the machine. They have to remain still during the scan, which can be anywhere between ten minutes to an hour depending on what kind of scan is required.
An Open MRI, sometimes called a “true open” MRI, machine produces the same kinds of photos but looks different. It is open on all sides and the machine is above and below the patient like two cookies. Look at the machine in the picture below.
A “Wide Bore” Open MRI is yet a third type of machine which performs the same task but is set up differently. See the photo below. The space where the patient lies is much wider than a fixed MRI and most of the time their head will be outside of the machine during the scan.
Here at Derry Imaging, we have two machines available, a traditional MRI and a “Wide Bore” Open MRI. We’ll explain 4 things you should know about these machines so you can decide which one will be best for your imaging needs.
1. A “Wide Bore” Open MRI is much more spacious
As we showed above, this machine is shaped like a very fat donut – see the picture below. Instead of completely enclosing your body, the donut goes around just the middle section of your body and is much wider than a traditional MRI machine – the opening is a full 2. 25 feet wide, providing more head room than a true open with plenty of space between the machine and your body even for larger patients. Many people who are claustrophobic and feel uncomfortable in traditional MRI machines feel much more comfortable in the wide bore machine.
(However, it’s important to note that for some patients, your head may have to be inside the donut area – if your head needs to be included in the MRI picture or if you are under five feet and two inches, this may be possible. Your radiologist and technician will explain what will happen.)
2. Our “Wide Bore” Open MRI produces much higher quality scans than a “True Open” MRI.
While many patients may hear about “true open” MRI machines and think this is their best option, what they don’t know is that those machines do not produce as high quality scans. 1.5T (teslas, which is the unit of power) is the standard setting for a traditional MRI machine, which provides excellent quality images for your radiologist to read. In contrast, “True Open” MRI machines are only between 0.3-1.2T and thus do not produce as high quality scans. This means that the image the radiologist reads is not as detailed or accurate. This is why we at Derry Imaging use what we consider to be the most advanced open MRI available, the “Wide Bore”. Our “Wide Bore” Open MRI scans at 1.5T – the exact same as the traditional MRI!
We believe that if you have come to us for an MRI scan, it is because your doctor needs those scans to correctly treat you – so what is the point of having a scan if the quality is poor? We believe that the “Wide Bore” Open MRI is the best choice for many patients so you don’t have to choose between comfort and the quality of your scan.
3. Our Open MRI costs the same as a regular MRI!
Here at Derry Imaging, we believe that high quality should not have to be high cost. We pride ourselves on providing the latest and most up to date technology and expertise at the best possible price to you. We don’t believe in charging any more just so that our patients can be more comfortable. When you get an MRI with us, you will pay the same cost regardless of which machine you choose – and in most cases it will be 40-70% less than you would pay at many other providers! We know that patients like to know their medical costs upfront, so we created a simple Customized Price Request form. Just fill it out and we will get back to you with the exact cost of your procedure, including calculating your insurance!
4. Even though our machine is spacious, if you are claustrophobic, it is still possible that you may experience anxiety.
No matter how large and spacious the machine is, sometimes our patients still feel uncomfortable. We understand! Our radiologists and techs are accustomed to this and will do everything possible to alleviate your anxiety. We offer all of our patients Elequil aromatabs, which are 100% pure essential oils. We find that for many patients, this pleasant aroma helps relax and calm them, as well as soothes any queasiness. You can also request to listen to your favorite music during the scan, and don’t worry about bringing earphones – we will provide them for you.
If you still feel that you will not be comfortable, we recommend that you speak with your doctor about receiving a sedative before the exam. (If you do choose this option, make sure you have someone accompany you to the exam and drive you home!)
Looking to learn more? Check out our page and video showing our MRI online!
Ready to make an appointment for your MRI today? Call us at (603) 537-1363!