Our Blog

Comparing Open MRI to Traditional MRI: What Patients Need to Know

Published February 15th, 2024 by Great Lakes Medical Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an invaluable tool in the medical field, offering detailed insights into the body's internal structures without the need for invasive procedures. However, the choice between an Open MRI and a Traditional MRI can significantly impact a patient's experience. At Great Lakes Medical Imaging (GLMI) in Buffalo, NY, we understand the importance of making informed decisions about your healthcare. This article will compare Open MRI and Traditional MRI, highlighting key differences to help patients in Western New York choose the option that best suits their needs.

Traditional MRI: The Standard Approach

Traditional MRI machines are characterized by their long, cylindrical shape, where patients lie inside a narrow tube during the scan. This design, while effective for imaging, can be challenging for certain patients.


  • High-Quality Images: Traditional MRI machines typically have strong magnetic fields, producing highly detailed images, crucial for diagnosing a wide range of conditions.
  • Wide Availability: Being the standard in many healthcare facilities, traditional MRI machines are widely available.


  • Claustrophobia: The enclosed nature of traditional MRI machines can induce feelings of claustrophobia in some patients.
  • Size Limitations: The narrow tube can be uncomfortable for larger patients or those with mobility issues.

Open MRI: A Patient-Centered Innovation

Open MRI machines are designed with open sides, significantly reducing the enclosed feeling associated with traditional MRI. This design addresses the needs of patients who may feel anxious or claustrophobic during the scan.


  • Reduced Anxiety: The open design can alleviate feelings of claustrophobia, offering a more comfortable experience for anxious patients.
  • Accommodating: Open MRI is more accessible for larger patients, children who may require a parent's presence, and those with mobility challenges.
  • Patient Comfort: Many patients find the open environment of an Open MRI to be less intimidating, making it easier to remain still for the duration of the scan.


  • Image Quality: While modern Open MRI machines have seen significant improvements, the image quality may sometimes be slightly lower than that of high-field traditional MRI machines, particularly for complex or deep-seated issues.
  • Availability: Open MRI machines are less commonly available than traditional ones and might not be present in all facilities.

Making the Right Choice

When deciding between an Open MRI and a Traditional MRI, consider the following factors:

  • Personal Comfort: If you experience claustrophobia or anxiety in confined spaces, an Open MRI might be a more suitable option.
  • Physical Needs: Patients with larger body types or those with specific physical restrictions may find Open MRI more accommodating.
  • Diagnostic Requirements: For certain complex conditions, the detailed imaging capabilities of a Traditional MRI might be necessary. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best option based on your medical needs.

GLMI's Commitment to Advanced Imaging

At GLMI, we are dedicated to providing advanced imaging solutions that cater to the diverse needs of our patients in Buffalo and Western New York. Our facility offers both Open MRI and Traditional MRI options, equipped with the latest technology to ensure diagnostic accuracy and patient comfort. Our team of expert radiologists and technicians is here to guide you through the process, ensuring that you receive the care and support you need.

In Conclusion

Choosing between an Open MRI and a Traditional MRI depends on individual needs, medical requirements, and personal preferences. At Great Lakes Medical Imaging, we're committed to offering personalized care, helping you make informed decisions about your imaging needs.

For more information about our MRI services or to discuss which option is right for you, please visit Great Lakes Medical Imaging. We're here to ensure you receive the highest standard of care, tailored to your unique needs.

Disclaimer: This blog article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

‹ Back

See more of Great Lakes Medical Imaging

Did you know we're on instagram? Connect with us @glmirad!

We offer our patients convenient, accessible care with multiple locations throughout Western New York.