Bringing MRI out in the Open: December 28, 2012

For years, people equated an MRI with a long, dark, cramped tube. It made the diagnostic scanner a source of anxiety for many.

“Claustrophobic patients- to get a high field exam, the only alternative for them is sedation. Actually giving them medication so that they go to sleep. But there’s always risks involved with sedating patients,” says Dr. John Rodriguez, Medical Director outpatient imaging with Lee Memorial Health System.

Now, developments in magnetic imaging mean patients can have the procedure in an open scanner. With new high field machines like this, images of bone and tissue appear clearly and accurately. Matching the high-powered tunnel systems, without the darkness and noise.

“Children want to have their parents around. If you put a child in a tube-type magnet they can’t see mom or dad and they get nervous and they get scared and they want to get out. With this machine the parent can be at the child’s side through the whole examination,” says Dr. Rodriguez.

Powered by a 17-ton magnet, the machine is quite literally opening up MRI. There are few physical obstructions, which offers a sense of space. But also makes room for large patients.

“This magnet is approved for 650 pounds. Patients at that size still may have trouble fitting into the even an open magnet, but certainly it expands the ability to get high field examinations on larger patients,” says Dr. Rodriquez.

The super-sized magnet is a game-changer too. With low field open MRI’s- doctors faced the choice of giving patients breathing room and getting lower quality images in return. This high field open system is the best of both worlds.

“That ability to have the real high magnetic field strength but still be open is the revolutionary change that this magnet offers,” says Dr. Rodriguez.

So when it comes to comfort and clarity, this machine is bringing MRI out of the dark ages.