MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It is basically a noninvasive imaging technology which produces some three dimensional complete anatomical images without using damaging radiation.
MRI has some advantages over normal X-rays and CT scans because it can reveal the inner workings of the human body in much better detail. But the problem is that it involves lying for 15 minutes or half an hour in a confined 70cm wide tube due to which many of the patients everyday in the hospital for MRI scan will ask to get out of the MRI machine before doctors have even had time to take their scan. In addition to that the machine produces large clicking and rotating sounds making the experience more disorienting and unpleasant.
It has been estimated that in conventional closed MRI scanners 10% of the referred patients in hospitals are unable to receive the scan mainly because of anxiety and claustrophobia. Some other researchers have shown that one in six patients suffer from these panic attacks and claustrophobia in the MRI machines.
Open MRI Scanners
Open MRI Scanner machines have been developed by scientists to overcome these problems. The basic technology of these open scanners is similar to the traditional MRI scanners. The main difference is that instead of having to go into a torpedo tube the open scanner is broad and open on three sides, which allows more space around the patient’s body and lessens the feelings of anxiety. In addition to removing the risk of claustrophobia the open scanner is ideal for the patients who are unable to fit into the confined space of the conventional scanner due to their size and weight.
The idea of the open scanner was developed in the 80s and machines were commercially available by the 90s. However, they weren’t popular among the radiologists at the start because of their inferior scan quality, mainly because they work at lower magnetic fields than the conventional closed scanners. Open scanners have become popular now as the manufacturers have increased their quality. Scientists and companies are further working on MRI scanners to enhance the quality and experience for patients all over the world.
Upright MRI scanner
Scientists have also developed another form of open MRI scanners usually known as the upright MRI scanners which are a more expensive than the normal open MRI scanners but are more beneficial in some cases.