Open MRI offers more comfortable positions for patients

One of the primary benefits of having a scan in a wide MRI scanner is the opportunity to find a more suitable and comfortable position.

In the open MRI scanner, which has no walls or tunnel, we are able to accommodate patients much more easily than in an enclosed scanner, where patients are limited to a narrow, small space.

For example, obese patients have no trouble fitting in our open MRI thanks to to the wide area of the scanner. Patients who are frail, in pain or elderly can often choose what position to lie in during their scan. And claustrophobic people need not panic because the scanner is open on all sides and much wider than a closed scanner.

If you’re wondering what to expect when having an open MRI, here are some ideas about positioning and how we can help accommodate you:

mri with friend

  • Patients undergoing a knee or leg MRI can go ‘feet first’ into the open MRI scanner. We can usually offer this for patients having an MRI of their hip or pelvis, lumbar spine, or abdomen, as well. When going in feet first, patients’ heads aren’t ‘underneath’ the scanner, which helps completely prevent any claustrophobic feelings.
  • For other areas of the body, it’s more likely that we will need you to go underneath the scanner head-first. This is crucial as the diagnostic images can only be captured accurately if the body part in question is able to be scanner.


NCL MRI Photo 12

  • Often, claustrophobic patients worry about going ‘underneath’ the scanner, especially if they require a brain MRI scan. However, we’ve helped extremely claustrophobic patients succeed in the open scanner. They often credit this to the wide walls of the scanner, cool air blowing on their face, and the fact that a family member can remain with you, holding your hand and distracting you, the entire time.
  • If you find it difficult to lay in a certain position or are experiencing pain in any part of your body, please let us know. Our experienced team can suggest different positions, like laying on your side in some cases, and can also provide additional pillows or cushions to ensure you’re comfortable.

mri with pillow

  • It’s also helpful that patients can communicate with the radiographer throughout the scan. If you need to move to make yourself more comfortable, simply ask. They can take breaks in between imaging sequences to allow for small movements without impacting the quality of the scan.

NCL MRI Photo 13

An MRI scan could last for up to 90 minutes – although the average time is about 45 minutes – which means that it’s important for patients to be able to lay comfortably for that amount of time.

Our team will do everything possible to keep patients comfortable and relaxed during their MRI appointment, so please let us know about any concerns you may have prior to the scan.

Newcastle Clinic offers private MRI scans to self-funded patients, or we can accept NHS referrals for obese or claustrophobic patients. Get in touch to learn how to request a referral.