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Understanding MRIs: The 3 Different Machines & Their Uses

February 24, 2023

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MRI Services at Expert MRI

If you have recently been referred for an MRI, chances are your referring provider is needing to get a detailed image or scan of soft tissues, such as ligaments, cartilage, or muscles. However, did you know that there are many different types of MRI machines, all with different uses and diagnostic strengths? Understanding MRIs can be beneficial to you and when scheduling your appointment. At ExpertMRI we offer three different types of MRI machines; Front Open MRI, 1.5T High-Field Strength MRI, and 3T High-Field Strength MRI. 

What is an MRI? 

MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is a diagnostic tool used by radiologists to create clear pictures of the inside of your body. MRIs generate images that help doctors to diagnose injuries or other abnormalities within the body. 

How does an MRI work?

An MRI scan works by using powerful magnets and a computer to create detailed images of internal body structures. Since your body is made up of over 80% water, those components of your body can be magnetic. Once put in a magnetic field, the water atoms of your body align and the polarity of your body is disrupted. In short, MRIs measure the amount of fluid that is in your body, which the computer uses to create a black-and-white image. Due to the amount of detail that MRIs can show, our experts can see even the smallest of abnormalities. 

How long does an MRI take?

MRIs in a traditional, closed-bore machine can last between 15-90 minutes depending on the type of scanner used, and the type of test your doctor orders.

What is a Front-Open MRI?

A Front-Open MRI, unlike a traditional MRI, allows you to lay on a bed that is more open, and not within a tube. Front-open MRIs are great alternatives for those who suffer from claustrophobia as they are not as enclosed. However, these types of MRIs also have different diagnostic uses than traditional MRI machines. 

What are Front-Open MRIs used for?

Front-open MRIs are best used for patients who need to have a certain position to get a scan. The most common uses for these types of MRIs are to detect things like:

  • Head or brain damage
  • Heart issues or defects 
  • Chest exams
  • Spinal exams, including scoliosis testing 
  • Abdominal exams 
  • Pelvic exams 
  • Issues with the joints 

There are many different uses for front-open MRIs, and often these machines provide more comfort than the alternative machines.

Benefits of Front-Open MRIs

There are many great benefits to front-open MRIs, especially when it comes to younger patients, patients with mobility issues, and patients that suffer from MRI anxiety and claustrophobia. Front-open MRIs alleviate anxiety in patients with claustrophobia due to the machine being more open than traditional closed-bore MRI machines. 

These machines are also less noisy than their counterparts, easing the stress of anxious patients. And, unlike other machines, younger kids can be accompanied by a parent, and patients with mobility issues are more comfortable in front-open MRI machines as they do not have to lie flat on their backs. 

1.5T High-Field Strength MRI 

Often referred to as traditional MRI, today’s High-Field Strength MRIs offer a shorter bore that is slightly more open than earlier MRI equipment. The higher-strength magnet enables more detailed pictures. These types of machines are used to see smaller abnormalities within the body. 

What are the benefits of higher field strength MRI?

Aside from the openness of the machine itself, patients often spend less time in the machine when using high-field strength MRI. Another benefit is that these machines offer even clearer images and can help see smaller parts of the body. 

For more information on if a higher field strength MRI is right for your imaging needs, call us at (877) 674-8888. 

3T High-Field Strength MRI 

3T MRI machines are newer in the industry and have a stronger magnet than most traditional MRI machines, making it easier to get clearer images of the soft tissue in the body. 

What is the difference between an MRI and a 3T MRI?

The largest difference between the 3T MRI and other traditional MRI machines is the strength of the magnet that the machine has. This machine is typically 3x stronger than closed-bore MRI machines, and up to 10x stronger than most open-MRI machines. 

Benefits of 3T MRI Machines

Due to the magnet’s strength, time in the machine is on average lower as well, with most patients spending about 15-20 minutes inside as opposed to the traditional 15-90 minutes for other MRI scans. Other benefits of the 3T MRI are 

  • The imaging speeds of these machines are so fast, they can capture a beating heart
  • Very small structures in the brain are visible at very high resolution to fully diagnose the extent of traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • These machines are able to diagnose orthopedic and neurological injuries that can be missed on traditional MRI
  • The larger, 70 mm bore can accommodate patients up to 500 pounds
  • Incredibly safe and highly accurate in the diagnosis of pediatric scoliosis

Interested in learning more? Contact us today at (877) 674-8888 or schedule your appointment online