Blog Post

Getting an Open MRI for your back

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the internal structures of the body. MRI is widely used for diagnosing and monitoring a range of conditions, including back pain. However, when it comes to imaging the lumbar spine, patients often face a choice between an open MRI and a closed MRI. In this blog post, we'll explore why an open MRI would be better for a lumbar spine MRI than a closed MRI.

What is an Open MRI?

An open MRI machine is designed to provide a more comfortable and less restrictive experience for patients. Unlike a closed MRI machine, which is a tunnel-like structure, an open MRI machine has a wider and more open design. The open design allows patients to lie on a table that slides into the MRI machine from the side rather than being placed inside a tunnel. This eliminates the closed-in feeling that some patients experience with a closed MRI machine.

Why an Open MRI is Better for a Lumbar Spine MRI

  1. Patient Comfort

The first and foremost reason why an open MRI is better for a lumbar spine MRI is patient comfort. For patients with back pain or claustrophobia, a closed MRI can be a daunting and uncomfortable experience. The narrow, enclosed space can trigger anxiety and panic attacks in some patients. On the other hand, an open MRI provides a more comfortable experience for patients, as it eliminates the closed-in feeling.

  1. Accessibility

An open MRI machine is also more accessible for patients who have difficulty getting onto a traditional MRI table. The open design allows patients to easily access the machine from the side, without the need for awkward positioning. This is particularly important for patients with mobility issues, obesity, or chronic pain.

  1. Better Image Quality

An open MRI machine provides better image quality for lumbar spine imaging compared to a closed MRI machine. The open design allows for more flexibility in positioning, resulting in more accurate images. The open design also reduces the amount of noise and movement artifacts that can occur in a closed MRI machine. Additionally, an open MRI can accommodate larger patients, resulting in better imaging for obese patients.

  1. Better Communication with the Technician

An open MRI machine also allows for better communication between the technician and the patient. The technician can speak to the patient during the exam, providing reassurance and guidance. This can be particularly helpful for patients who are anxious or claustrophobic.


In conclusion, an open MRI is better for a lumbar spine MRI than a closed MRI due to patient comfort, accessibility, better image quality, and better communication with the technician. If you need a lumbar spine MRI and are concerned about claustrophobia or discomfort, talk to your doctor about the benefits of an open MRI. An open MRI can provide a more comfortable and effective diagnostic experience.