Open MRI offers same high quality results, increased patient comfort

November 13, 2006
Patients who can’t stand the thought of being squeezed into an MRI tunnel for testing have a better option that not only increases their comfort; it provides the highest quality images for physicians to make the most accurate diagnosis. Offering the best of both worlds, the open MRI at New Hanover Regional Medical Center has fast become a patient favorite for its wider scanning tube – wide enough for most to have significant elbow room and hence the term “open bore” – and its shorter tunnel, slightly more than 4 feet in length, compared to a standard MRI tunnel that runs nearly 7 feet. “Whatever part is being scanned, part of you is sticking out and that’s what patients like,” said Bobbie Burn, NHRMC’s Radiology Manager, explaining that 60 percent of scans have the feet go in first while the head remains outside. “It’s reminiscent of a CT scan and that’s the best part.” NHRMC is one of the few hospitals in North Carolina with this technology. After slightly more than a year of operation, some 3,300 patients have been scanned on the open MRI – many of them repeat customers who have found comfort in its wider opening and shorter tunnel. “I’ve had a number of the old type,” said 69-year-old Jeremiah Alexander, who recently had his first MRI on the open machine. “The open type is much, much better,” he said. “I was pretty comfortable in there.” Known in clinical circles by its product name, the Magnetom Espree, this open MRI has won a “Product Innovation Award” for being the first open-bore scanner to produce the same high-field results as a conventional scanner that, heretofore, were unavailable on an open MRI. “The higher the field strength, the better the image quality,” said Burn. “Radiologists love it because the image quality is so good.” For Alexander, the seven or eight MRI scans he had in the past seemed like a tight fit for his six-foot frame, so the openness of this machine was a welcome change. “There was more room and it seemed like I could breathe better – like there was more air flowing through,” he said.Ask your doctor to schedule your next MRI on the “open” at NHRMC. Call 452.8777 for more.