What Kinds of MRI Scanners Are There?

If you have persistent pain in some area of your body, your doctor might order an MRI scan. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and it allows trained medical professionals to see what is going on inside soft tissues like muscles and tendons. There are two options for testing: a closed or an open mri scanner. MRI scanners are becoming very popular and they come in three different types.


This was the first type of MRI developed and it revolutionized medicine. Since the early part of the 20th century, doctors had been able to use x-rays to view the bones inside the body, but that was only of limited use. Most of the body is made up of soft tissues, and those don’t appear clearly on an x-ray. Through the use of strong magnets, computers and radio waves, an MRI machine creates images of the inside of the body. The major downside with this technology, however, is that it is a problem for patients who suffer from claustrophobia.


If you have problems with small, enclosed spaces, an open mri scanner could be the answer for you. Instead of placing a patient’s entire body inside a tube for imaging, open mri scanners move the patient through a smaller loop to create the image. One disadvantage of this is that the results may not be quite as clear as those from a closed scanner, which is larger and can use more powerful magnets.


If your issue is with an arm, leg, hand or foot, an extremity scanner can be used. These machines give good images and are useful for diagnosing arthritis, tumors, tears, infections and other injuries or diseases of soft tissues. This type of scanner doesn’t trigger people’s claustrophobia prevent misdiagnosis because only the extremity is placed inside the machine.

When your doctor suggests that you need an MRI scan to diagnose a problem, ask if an open scanner will work for your issue. It could make all the difference if you have a problem with small spaces.