Open MRI scanners are a stress-free alternative to using a conventional enclosed tunnel MRI scanner, providing comfort and reassurance for people who suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia.
Our Truly Open MRI provides a clear view ahead during a scan as well as variable, upright scanning positions such as seated, standing and leaning. They should not be confused with sandwich type open MRI scanners, where patients can only lie flat and effectively become the filling inside the scanner.
Fear of confined spaces (claustrophobia) affects around 10 percent of the population, and tunnel MRI scanners can be particularly anxiety-provoking and traumatic, as patients must lie still in a tunnel for between 15 and 90 minutes.
Some patients even need sedation to stay calm enough to get through the experience. One study found as many as one in four patients reported moderate to severe anxiety during their tunnel MRI scan.
Medserena MRI scanner machines are open fronted putting anxious patients at ease so they can talk to relatives or friends throughout the procedure for reassurance. This is particularly helpful for young people (12 to 16-year olds), who may want their parents with them, or those with learning difficulties or dementia, who need support.
Patients can also watch television on a 50-inch screen. All the emphasis is on making the upright MRI scan as stress-free, relaxed, and dignified as possible.
For added reassurance Medserena offers a free visit prior to booking to discuss the scan, so patients can check out the clinic, and find out about the procedure.
All open MRIs are performed according to strict clinical protocols. Our mission is to combine a calm and comfortable scanning experience with exceptionally accurate MRI diagnostics and expert interpretation of results from experienced and qualified radiologists.
Waiting times for an appointment are minimal, and patients receive a written medical report within 48 hours of their open MRI.
Open MRI scans are also a more comfortable solution for larger/ heavier patients who might have difficulty fitting comfortably into a conventional tunnel scanner, as they can accommodate weights of up to 35 stone(226kg).
However, suitability will depend on the patient’s build and the area of anatomy to be investigated.
Most spinal scans at Medserena are done seated, to show the effects of gravity without the pain and discomfort of standing. The spine is exposed to a pressure five times greater when sitting rather than lying down, and so an open MRI scan may reveal problems either not visible or underestimated in the supine (flat) position in a conventional scanner. They can be particularly useful for picking up causes of spinal instability, including spinal fusion, as well as spondylolisthesis (a common condition where vertebrae in the back slips out of position).
An open MRI may also provide some answers for patients about the causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, or pelvic floor insufficiency (a cause of stress incontinence).
At Medserena our scanner is not only open but truly upright. This allows patients to be scanned in positions not possible when laying down. It can therefore give a more conclusive diagnosis of conditions such as whiplash (injury caused by a severe jolt of the neck), or the inherited connective tissue disorder hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Scans are available to self-pay clients, clients with private health insurance and NHS patients where prior funding has been agreed by a clinical commissioning group.