MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a standard non-invasive medical procedure. Essentially, the MRI machine uses a combination of magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the inside of the body, enabling doctors and other medical professionals to diagnose internal health issues without the need for costly and invasive surgery. The MRI is a stalwart of modern healthcare, a quick and easy checkup that saves countless lives every year by catching terminal diseases in their early stages. What many Americans fail to realize, however, is that there is more than one kind of MRI machine, and that they may have the option, depending on where they live, of choosing between the two.
Open Or Closed?
The original MRI machines built by early radiologists were closed, with the patient inserted into the machine and enclosed in the medical apparatus. This method is the one generally seen in films and television, in which a health-conscious protagonist finds themselves lying in a long tube for an extended period of time. The large magnetic ring through which patients pass during the MRI exam provides clear images of the skeleton and joints and is particularly useful in the diagnosis of cancer and muscular disorders. The closed MRI machine is by far the most common in the United States, as its existence predates that of the open MRI and there are simply more machines available on the market.
However, because some patients suffered from closed MRI-induced claustrophobia (the fear of being in an enclosed area), a different version of the same technology was invented to cater to the needs of patients who dislike small spaces. In areas like Winter Park open MRI machines have magnetic areas on the top and bottom of the patient area, but do not enclose the patient completely, alleviating the claustrophobia reported by many patients upon their insertion into a closed MRI machine. Open MRIs are a popular alternative to the closed variant as they are far easier to get into and out of, and they allow the patient to look out from the machine as they lie in the relatively large space between the two magnets.
MRI and Your Health
One of the great benefits of magnetic resonance imaging technology is that it does not use ionized radiation. For this reason, it’s suitable for pregnant women, although as the fetus is more sensitive to the effects of heat and noise, doctors recommend that pregnant women not undergo unnecessary MRI scans until the end of the first trimester. In Winter Park open MRI is a popular method of diagnosing congenital effects in a developing fetus, as it can provide significantly more diagnostic information than an ultrasound. MRI imaging is increasingly becoming the method of choice for in-utero diagnosis as it is non-invasive and can assist greatly in the planning of life-saving fetal surgery.