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How Does Great Lakes' Open MRI Technology Compare to Traditional MRI Scans?

Published March 4th, 2024 by Great Lakes Medical Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has long been a cornerstone of diagnostic medicine, providing detailed images of the body's internal structures without the use of ionizing radiation. 

At Great Lakes Medical Imaging (GLMI) in Buffalo, NY, we offer both traditional and Open MRI options to accommodate the diverse needs of our Western New York patients. Understanding the differences between these two technologies can help patients make informed decisions about their imaging needs. Let's explore how GLMI's Open MRI technology stacks up against traditional MRI scans.

Traditional MRI: The Standard in Imaging

Traditional MRI machines are characterized by their cylindrical design, where patients lie inside a narrow, tunnel-like chamber. This setup, while effective for imaging, can be challenging for certain individuals.

Advantages of Traditional MRI:

  • High-Field Strength: Traditional MRI machines typically operate at higher field strengths, producing highly detailed images that are crucial for diagnosing a wide range of conditions.
  • Broad Application: The high-resolution images obtained from traditional MRI scans are invaluable in assessing complex issues across various medical fields, from neurology to orthopedics.


  • Claustrophobia: The enclosed nature of traditional MRI machines can induce feelings of claustrophobia in some patients, making the scan a challenging experience.
  • Size Restrictions: The confined space may not comfortably accommodate all body types, particularly larger individuals.

Open MRI: A Patient-Centric Innovation

Open MRI machines, as the name implies, are designed with open sides, eliminating the enclosed space typical of traditional MRI scanners. This design addresses the comfort and accessibility concerns associated with conventional MRI.

Advantages of Open MRI at GLMI:

  • Reduced Anxiety: The open design significantly alleviates feelings of claustrophobia, offering a more comfortable and less intimidating experience for anxious patients.
  • Accommodating Design: Open MRI can better accommodate larger patients and those with mobility issues, ensuring a broader range of individuals can access necessary imaging.
  • 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, which is crucial for obtaining clear images.


  • Image Quality: While modern Open MRI technology has seen significant improvements, the image quality, particularly for certain types of scans, may not always match that of high-field traditional MRI machines. However, for many diagnostic purposes, Open MRI provides sufficiently detailed images.
  • Scan Time: Open MRI scans may take slightly longer than traditional MRI scans due to the differences in magnetic field strength.

Choosing Between Open MRI and Traditional MRI at GLMI

The choice between Open MRI and traditional MRI depends on several factors, including the specific area being imaged, the patient's medical history, and personal comfort preferences. At GLMI, our team of radiologists and medical professionals work closely with patients to determine the most appropriate imaging modality based on their individual needs.

  • Personal Comfort and Anxiety Levels: For patients with claustrophobia or significant anxiety about confined spaces, Open MRI may be the preferred choice.
  • Specific Diagnostic Needs: Traditional MRI may be recommended for certain complex or detailed imaging needs due to its higher field strength and resultant image clarity.
  • Physical Considerations: Open MRI offers a more accessible option for larger patients or those with mobility issues.

GLMI's Commitment to Advanced Imaging

At Great Lakes Medical Imaging, we are committed to providing the highest standard of care, leveraging advanced imaging technologies to meet the diverse needs of our patients. Whether through Open MRI or traditional MRI, our goal is to ensure that every patient receives accurate, timely, and comfortable imaging services.

Open MRI technology in Western New York

Open MRI technology at Great Lakes Medical Imaging offers a viable, comfortable alternative to traditional MRI scans, particularly for patients who prioritize comfort or have specific needs that make traditional MRI challenging. By offering both options, GLMI ensures that all patients in Buffalo and Western New York have access to the diagnostic imaging they require, delivered with the utmost care and consideration.

For more information about Open MRI and traditional MRI services at GLMI, or to discuss which option might be right for you, please contact our team at Great Lakes Medical Imaging. Our team is here to guide you through your imaging options and provide the support you need throughout your diagnostic journey.

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.

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