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Closed or open MRI scanner – which device to choose for your clinic

A quality diagnosis is the key to successful treatment, and to obtain an accurate diagnosis of complex diseases without resorting to invasive techniques, modern clinics use MRI scanners. Unlike other imaging modalities, the device, which operates based on the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) phenomenon, does not use X-rays and has no harmful effect on the human body.

Almost every clinic faces the choice of which MRI scanner is better – closed or open – before buying this expensive equipment. This is exactly the question, to which we are going to try to find the answer.

As it is known, an open MRI scanner is usually a permanent magnet machine, while a closed scanner has a powerful superconducting magnet. That is exactly why many people got a stereotypical opinion that an open MRI scanner has little diagnostic value, provides poor-quality images and is, in all respects, inferior to a closed scanner, the one with a superconducting magnet. Perhaps, a few years ago, this opinion was reasonable. However, in the course of new technological developments, each new open MRI machine model is improved by scientists to the extent where image quality can be compared with images obtained using closed MRI scanners. In this regard, we offer you to consider advantages of both machine types in more detail.

Closed or open MRI scanner – which device to choose for your clinic

Open MRI scanners

It's not a secret that open MRI scanners are a relatively young generation of imaging devices. They were primarily created to provide patients with greater comfort during examinations. This feature is the first advantage over closed scanners, since claustrophobia is a substantial reason which does not allow lengthy examinations in closed scanners. In addition, relatives’ presence during the procedure, makes patients with mental illnesses calmer, and reduces the movement during procedures resulting in better image quality. Furthermore, because there is no “tunnel” with a limited diameter, it is possible to examine patients with excessive body weight and with certain types of limb fractures. If your health care facility has a small flow of patients requiring MRI diagnostics, an open scanner will be quite suitable for you. Besides, it will be more cost-effective, since it does not need periodic helium replenishment.

When purchasing an MRI scanner, the buyer should first look at its magnet power. To carry out examinations of various complexity, and to obtain high-quality images, we recommend you choose a scanner with more than 0.5 Tesla magnet, as manufacturers, producing modern open MRI scanners, provide them with all important technical features, namely:

  • increased comfort for patients;
  • digital spectrometer availability.

Accelerated positioning with 8 to 16 RF channels and software, which includes artifact reduction and image quality protocols and options, make open MRI scanners sufficient for diagnosing serious diseases.

Hitachi Altaire 0.7T is an excellent option, developed based on technologies utilized for superconducting magnets. GE Signa OpenSpeed ​​0.7T MRI scanner is also worth considering. For those who want to have an open-type MRI scanner with a superconducting magnet, Hitachi offers its Oasis 1.2T scanner which is unique, providing high diagnostic standards and patient throughput.

Closed or open MRI scanner – which device to choose for your clinic

Closed MRI scanners

Unlike open-type MRI scanners where a magnet is placed horizontally, closed-type scanners look like a “tunnel” in which only the head and feet are open, and its length is 60 to 160 cm on average with about a 60 cm diameter and 1 to 7 Tesla magnet. This high power can handle anything from everyday diagnostics to complex scientific research. A superconducting magnet provides the most valuable data in those examinations, in which they cannot be obtained using a scanner, equipped with a permanent magnet, for instance, the feet, hands, and small structures like the pituitary gland. In addition, you will get high-quality images in complex areas of the healthcare industry, such as neurology, oncology, cardiovascular diagnostics, especially when using intravenous contrast agents.

To efficiently use a closed MRI scanner in your clinic, we recommend you to pay attention to a few things. First of all, when buying used equipment, it is worth looking at the cooling system condition. An MRI scanner with Zero Boil Off (ZBO) technology is an ideal choice because magnets contain 300 to 1800 liters of helium, at a price of $10 to $20 per liter. To conduct examinations in patients with different body types and physical conditions, we advise choosing a scanner with a wide gantry aperture, since the standard diameter is only 60 cm, and this size is often insufficient. You can find such specifications in 3 Tesla MRI scanners manufactured by Siemens – Magnetom Skyra and Magnetom Vida. Besides having a 70 cm gantry aperture and Zero Boil Off technology, they are also premium class scanners with very powerful diagnostic capabilities. Toshiba Vantage Titan 3T and Philips Ingenia 3T MRI scanners have a wide gantry aperture as well.

So, we hope that the issue of choosing the right MRI scanner has become even simpler for you now, and the only dilemma you will have to solve is the scanner type that suits you best.

Diana Balog, doctor, BiMedis Сompany


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