Everything You Need to Know About the Different Types of MRI Machines

To be able to effectively diagnose and treat their patients who have medical conditions that are seen using x-rays, magnetic fields, and radio frequencies, many doctors turn to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  This imaging technique has passed through serious improvements over the years, and as a result, there are a variety of MRI equipment and instruments available. It is a preferred instrument over computed tomography (CT) scans and x-rays because it does not use x-rays with ionizing radiation. Overall it’s a very expensive device, so the price of MRI machine price could vary from thousands to millions.

Depending on the symptoms, a patient can undergo many different MRI procedures. Today, there are three types of machines used for magnetic resonance imaging. Before we discuss the differences in these modalities, let’s differentiate the close MRI from the open MRI.

The difference between open and closed MRI

It is easy to explain the difference between an open MRI and closed MRI.

The closed MRI is a piece of equipment that takes a very detailed picture of your anatomy using a slim cylindrical container that has a diameter of approximately 60 centimeters. The body will enter the machine and depending on the magnet strength that is used for the MRI study, also called Tesla, it can be as long as 90 minutes or more.

An open MRI, on the other hand, is created as an option for claustrophobic patients (suffering or have symptoms of fear for enclosed spaces) and obese patients who will not fit in the closed MRI. However, even if an open MRI is more comfortable, it can provide minor details than what a closed MRI can.

How Does MRI Works?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and the meaning of the name itself is self-explanatory. The mechanism behind the machine is straightforward. A patient lies in a device that has a magnet and radio wave that sends its signal to the body and then receives it back. These signals bounced back and forth and converted as images due to the computer attached to the machine. There are different strengths of the magnetic field in different types of scanners, and they are measured in Tesla or “T.” The Tesla ranges from 0.5T and 3.0T.

The Different Types of MRI Machines

Extremity MRI

In this diagnostic imaging technique uses a closed MRI equipment to take a closer look at the tissues of the legs and arms. However, unlike the conventional MRI method where a big tube-shaped device is used, the extremity MRI utilizes a smaller tool to scan the extremities. This is favorable for people with claustrophobia where a closed MRI is not possible. Another difference with closed MRI is with extremity MRI you can move as it does not limit the body movement. Patients undergo this procedure to check on any of the following possible conditions of the extremities: arthritis, fractures, bone infections, tumors of the soft tissue or bones and other nerve-related issues.

Open MRI

As discussed earlier, this MRI machine is designed specifically for patients who have symptoms of claustrophobia and those who are too large for the diameters of an enclosed device. That mechanism is the same as patients lie back on a sliding table without the tube. It is more comfortable but at the cost of generating images with lesser details than is closed counterparts because the magnetic fields are compromised.

3-Tesla MRI

This type is the Ferrari of MRI machines as it has twice the strength of the conventional MRI machine and is, therefore, producing more detailed images with lesser exposure to the magnetic field. The 3-Tesla MRI is helpful in identifying the signs of fatal conditions like tumors, stroke, and aneurysms, it is also used to evaluate the circulatory system and the heart, obstructions in the blood vessels, to check on other conditions like disc disease, arthritis, bone infections and to examine the internal organs like the kidneys, liver, uterus, prostate or ovaries.

There you have it, a simple explanation on the types of MRI. The doctor can determine the type of MRI that is best for your condition.