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What to Expect During an Open MRI at GLMI?

Published April 6th, 2024 by Great Lakes Medical Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a powerful diagnostic tool that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of organs and structures inside the body. For many patients, the prospect of undergoing an MRI can be daunting, especially for those who experience claustrophobia or discomfort in enclosed spaces. This is where open MRI technology, an innovative alternative to traditional MRI machines, comes into play. Great Lakes Medical Imaging (GLMI) in Buffalo, NY, with locations in Williamsville, Cheektowaga, Orchard Park, and Niagara, is proud to offer open MRI services designed to enhance patient comfort without compromising image quality. Here's what you can expect during an open MRI procedure at GLMI.

Understanding Open MRI

Open MRI machines differ from conventional MRI units in their design. While traditional MRI machines have a narrow, tunnel-like chamber where patients lie during the scan, open MRI units do not enclose the patient fully. Instead, they are designed with open sides or more extensive gaps between the top and bottom of the machine, providing a less restrictive environment. This design feature is particularly beneficial for patients with claustrophobia, larger body sizes, or those who require a caregiver's presence during the procedure.

Before the Procedure

Before scheduling your open MRI, a consultation with your healthcare provider or one of GLMI's radiologists will determine if open MRI is the most appropriate imaging method for your specific needs. Once scheduled, you will receive detailed instructions on how to prepare for the scan, which may include dietary restrictions or guidance on medication intake. It's essential to inform the medical team about any implants, such as pacemakers or metal clips, as these can affect the MRI process.

Arrival at the Facility

Upon arriving at one of GLMI's locations for your open MRI, you'll check in at the reception, where you may need to complete some paperwork. You'll be asked to remove any metal objects, jewelry, and certain types of clothing that could interfere with the magnetic field. In some cases, you might be given a gown to wear during the procedure.

The Open MRI Experience

An MRI technologist will escort you to the MRI room and help you get positioned on the scanning table. For an open MRI, the table does not slide into a tunnel but remains exposed to the open room, significantly reducing feelings of confinement. The technologist will communicate with you throughout the procedure, often through an intercom system, ensuring you are comfortable and informed about what's happening.

During the Scan

Once the scan begins, it's crucial to remain as still as possible to ensure the images captured are clear and useful for diagnosis. You'll hear a series of loud thumping or tapping noises, which are normal sounds produced by the MRI machine during the imaging process. Some patients find it helpful to wear earplugs or headphones, which may be provided, to help block out the noise.

The duration of the open MRI can vary depending on the area being scanned but typically lasts between 30 to 60 minutes. The open design allows for a more comfortable experience, especially for those who feel anxious in enclosed spaces. Throughout the procedure, the MRI technologist will monitor you and can pause the scan if you experience any discomfort.

After the Procedure

Once the open MRI scan is complete, you can typically return to your normal activities immediately, as the procedure does not use radiation and has no lingering effects. The images captured during your scan will be analyzed by a radiologist, who will then provide a detailed report to your referring healthcare provider. Your provider will discuss the results with you and recommend any further steps or treatment if necessary.

Medical Imaging in Western New York

Undergoing an open MRI at Great Lakes Medical Imaging is designed to be a comfortable and stress-free experience. By combining patient-friendly technology with the expertise of our medical staff, we ensure that each patient receives the highest standard of care and accurate diagnostic results. If you have concerns about claustrophobia or require special accommodations for your MRI, consider discussing the possibility of an open MRI with your healthcare provider.

For more information or to schedule your open MRI in Buffalo, NY, at one of our locations in Williamsville, Cheektowaga, Orchard Park, or Niagara, please feel free to reach out today!

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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