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Differences between open and closed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Open magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a mode of this type of diagnostic imaging that allows patients to undergo the examination without being required to remain enclosed in a narrow tunnel. For some individuals – such as children, elderly persons, obese individuals, or those suffering from claustrophobia – staying in a particularly confined space for several minutes can be problematic. Therefore, an alternative system has been developed that allows MRI to be performed while remaining outside.

In recent years, the desire of an increasing number of patients to choose open MRI has led many healthcare facilities to equip themselves with this type of machinery. However, while open MRI in some cases may provide greater comfort to the patient, the results obtained from the examination are not as reliable as those from traditional MRI

For this reason, in the diagnostic imaging department of MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” we have chosen a non-open magnetic resonnance machine, a state-of-the-art instrument that ensures safe and highly detailed results, facilitating faster and more accurate reports. Furthermore, thanks to the specific configuration of the radiology department’s machinery, it is possible to perform many types of exams while keeping the patient’s head outside the tunnel.

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive examination as it does not involve any ionizing radiation. By exploiting biochemical processes, clear and detailed three-dimensional images of both soft tissues (nerves, muscles, ligaments, fat, blood vessels) and hard tissues (bones and cartilage) are obtained.

The examination requires the patient to enter a cylindrical structure with limited space. This can cause discomfort in some individuals, especially in vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, or those suffering from claustrophobia.

Open magnetic resonance imaging was developed to meet these needs. Its structure does not involve the use of a closed tunnel but consists of two arms (one upper and one lower) forming a large square C. This way, even people with special needs can undergo a magnetic resonance imaging examination.

Open or Closed MRI: Which is the Best Choice?

Open magnetic resonance imaging, despite addressing the discomfort of some patients, does not ensure the same effectiveness as closed magnetic resonance imaging.

Open MRI utilizes a low-field magnet designed for the study of musculoskeletal pathologies. This factor makes the instrument less powerful and therefore less precise compared to closed magnetic resonance imaging, which instead has a high-field magnet that provides maximum sharpness and greater contrast in image resolution.

Many studies have shown that closed magnetic resonance imaging ensures greater accuracy in image details, especially in small and complex areas such as hand joints, feet, ankles, ligaments, tendons, knees, and elbows. Due to the lower magnetic power, open MRI cannot perform vascular investigations and heart studies.

The duration of the examination is the same for both types of scans (about 45 minutes), and the contraindication for pacemaker carriers or pregnant women remains valid.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini”

Our diagnostic imaging center is equipped with one of the best systems on the market, namely a 1.5 Tesla Philips imaging system. The high intensity and homogeneity of this magnetic field provide accurate and detailed images, ensuring a safe and precise diagnosis.

Thanks to the 60 cm diameter tunnel, there is greater cabin space and therefore greater comfort for the patient undergoing the examination.

The openings at both ends of the machine allow many patients to undergo the examination with their head outside the tunnel, which is a huge advantage for individuals who are uncomfortable being confined in narrow spaces.

To undergo magnetic resonance imaging, booking is necessary. To make an appointment, you can write an email to or call our reception at 0587.609134.

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