You’re sick or injured and your doctor has told you that you need an MRI so that they can make a complete diagnosis and create a treatment plan. It’s an understandably stressful experience, and that leads most patients to try to get their scans as quickly as possible to “get it over with.”
In the process, though, you don’t want to rush into an inferior imaging center and be left with inaccurate or insufficient images. Did you know there are many different types and strengths of MRI machines? Let’s take a closer look at what makes a good MRI machine and why you should care.
What Makes a Good MRI Machine and Why You Should Care
First of all, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how an MRI works. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. The machine creates a magnetic field around you, then sends radio waves through this magnetic field, including through your body. Those radio waves return with signals the MRI can then convert into internal images.
With this in mind, there are two key factors that affect your MRI machine’s quality: its magnetic strength and its configuration.
Each MRI machine can create a magnetic field with a certain amount of strength. This strength is measured in teslas or Ts. Modern MRI machines typically range from about 0.5T to about 3T, and 1.5T is considered to be standard.
The higher your MRI’s T strength, the more detailed your images will be. Think of more powerful MRIs as high-definition photos, giving your doctor a clearer picture with a better view of small details like blood vessels.
If you’ve seen MRIs in movies or TV shows, you’ve probably seen a traditional MRI machine: the inside looks like a tunnel with one side closed, and you lay in the middle of the “tunnel.” While this is the conventional MRI, this makes some patients claustrophobic, and if a patient moves during their MRI due to anxiety or other movements, it will affect the image quality.
For this reason, there are several different MRI designs today. The first is a wide-bore MRI. It looks the same as a traditional MRI but with a wider “tunnel,” making it less restrictive for claustrophobic patients and more practical for obese patients.
There are also open-bore MRIs. These MRIs can vary, as some have you lay down while others have you sit or stand, but regardless, an open-bore MRI is open on all sides. It will generally have a panel in front of you and one behind you to create the magnetic field.
While open bore MRIs are more comfortable in general, they max out at a lower magnetic strength, so they may not produce as clear of an image.
Why Your MRI Machine Matters
Your MRI is a critical part of your healthcare. After all, your doctor is hinging your treatment plan on the information they receive from your MRI. The more accurate and high-quality your MRI is, the better your doctor can plan your treatment and the better your health is likely to respond.
How to Get a High-Quality MRI
If you’re in need of an MRI, you now understand what makes a good MRI machine and why you should care but there’s no need to call every imaging center in town to compare them. Imaging Panda does that legwork for you, allowing you to see each imaging center’s pricing and capabilities for the scans you need. Search for an MRI near you today.