Feedback: experience in a standard MRI scanner

closed vs open mri scanWe recently caught up with a man who had an open MRI at Newcastle Clinic several months ago. He got in touch to talk to us about his experience having a follow-up scan in a closed MRI scanner – and how different it was. Here’s what we learned:

The patient was referred for a closed MRI scan on his pelvis to monitor an ongoing issue. He had been to Newcastle Clinic in the past, but this time his appointment was not as urgent so he decided to try out the traditional scanner.

MRI contrast 

When he attended the appointment for the open MRI at Newcastle Clinic, the contrast injection didn’t bother him.

He said it was a far different experience when having the contrast for the closed scanner, which was administered by a cannula. Unfortunately, the first attempt trying to get the cannula failed, and resulted in “about a minute of wiggling it around!” The drip also made his arm very numb and uncomfortable, and he couldn’t help but flex his hand during the MRI scan to relieve the pain.

The patient said he would prefer Newcastle Clinic if he ever required MRI contrast again, because we only administer MRI contrast by injection, which is a quicker and less painful process.

The tunnel 

Since the closed MRI was of his pelvis, the patient was able to go into the closed scanner feet-first. He told us that he doesn’t typically experience claustrophobic feelings, but that when he was being moved inside the closed MRI, he couldn’t even look down into “the tunnel” because it made him feel panicky. The patient said that he was relieved when the belt stopped and his head wasn’t entirely underneath the top. He told us that he could “only just see out. I would have freaked out if my head had been inside, and I don’t think I could handle going in head first!”

He told us he felt lucky to be so tall, because he thought if he was any shorter, his head would have been inside the scanner. He’s 6’2″.

He also said that he was surprised by how much smaller the traditional scanner was compared to the open MRI. He said, “I’m not a big guy, and if I leaned slightly toward either side, my shoulders would touch the side of the tunnel.”

The music that was playing during his scan cut out halfway through the 50-minute long process, so for 25 minutes he “just tried to concentrate on getting through it.” He told us that having someone sit with him during the open MRI made it much more relaxing and easier to be patient throughout the appointment.

The open MRI difference

The feedback from this particular patient was very clear: his experience in the open MRI was much more comfortable than the standard enclosed scanner. He told us that if he ever needs an MRI again, he’d insist on having an open MRI.

Learn more about the benefits of open MRI scanning or find out how to get a referral.