Claustrophobia is a condition that affects up to 15% of all Americans, and it can really become a problem for anyone who requires an MRI to detect any underlying medical issues. The fear of being restricted in a tight space and even suffocating prohibits approximately two million people with claustrophobia from having an MRI every year.
Luckily, there are newer, more innovative machines that can help resolve this issue while still providing the imaging necessary to detect medical conditions. An open MRI scanner features an open design with a wide bore to help reduce fears of being confined. They also vastly reduce noise that can also cause a great deal of anxiety in patients.Closed-Bore MRI
The typical closed-bore MRI machine features a magnetic strength of 1.0T to 3.0T, and the bore diameter is 60 cm. Yet the clarity of studies on closed MRI systems is generally a lot stronger, which means if a patient is claustrophobic and the study requires the high clarity of a closed bore, patients would either have to go through with the MRI despite their fears, take a sedative, or be anesthetized.
The majority of closed-bore MRI systems feature a 60cm bore. For years, manufacturers have been pushing to bring high-image clarity while broadening the bore for patients that either don’t fit in a 60cm opening or can’t bring themselves to be positioned in this opening. Many manufacturers have since introduced “wide-bore” systems into this high-field magnet classification. Although these systems do not create a broader field of view, they do offer a more comfortable experience for patients.
Physicians have the opportunity to use open MRI for their patients, particularly those who suffer from some level of claustrophobia. Generally speaking, an open MRI features two flat magnets that are placed over-and-under with a big gap between them for the patient to lie down in. This configuration helps to keep the space open on two different sides and eliminates the claustrophobic feelings that many patients may otherwise go through.
These systems typically feature .2T and .3T magnets, with some systems as high as .7 or 1.0T. While the clarity of this magnetic range isn’t as good as closed-bore MRI, for sites that often perform the right studies, open MRI can offer the ideal balance of imaging requirement, cost, and patient comfort.
Thanks to the innovation of open MRI scanners, patients with fears of confinement can undergo medical imaging comfortably.