Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!


Quick Start Forum Video Tutorial

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Open MRI's vs. Closed MRI's - Which is better?

gmiller22ggmiller22 Posts: 34
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain

I am asking this question because I have been suffering with pain from my neck to the bottom of my thoracic area and recently had an Open MRI on my thoracic spine that came up negative.

I am all new to this stuff, I have been seeing my GP on and off for about 4-5 years but he always just seemed to blame it on my muscles and give me some muscle relaxers and send me on my way. He did do x-rays and they showed arthritis and bone spurs but he did not seem concerned about it since I am only 24. I had to stop trying to find answers because I lost my insurance at my job for about a year. I am back on the hunt and seeing a different Dr, he saw how long I had been having this pain so he gave me a script for an MRI... Well I didn't know the difference between an Open MRI and a Closed MRI at the time and there was an Open MRI office close to my home which accepted me insurance so I made the appt and had it done. The results came back normal a few days later. The test/films were never broke down to me or explained, even the copy just says "Nothing remarkable"...

Anyway to make a long story short I just found out that Open MRI's use a lot smaller strength in magnet so is it possible that the MRI could have missed something? Should I ask the Dr for a new one, or maybe buy one out of pocket myself? Are they really that different?

Also since I am having the pain from my neck down to the bottom of the middle of my back, shouldn't he have ordered an MRI of the neck as well? I wonder if I should ask him for one. I know my body and I know something is wrong and has been wrong for quite some time now. I just feel like every Dr I have seen just brushes my pain off because of my age... How can I get thru to them that I really am in pain, lots of pain, every day, ALL day?!?

I am going to an Ortho next week, hopefully he will take me serious. If not I don't know where to go next.

There is so many strong people on this site, it truly is amazing. Thanks for any comments to this post.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous day! :) :) :)


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,425
    today, closed MRI's provide more details than any of the Open units. The resolution of closed MRI's is much finer and can identify more than what Open MRIs can do.

    Three years ago, I wouldnt even believe that an Open MRI unit could find small occurrences of spinal problems. Today, they can do a lot more and who knows in years to come they may equal what a closed MRI can produce.

    I have read about some situations in which the open MRI can identify specific problems better than a closed on. I wish I had the details, but perhaps some one on the site can jump in.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Gmiller,

    I agree that the closed MRI is better for imaging, but maybe you should consider this? When my C6/7 level went, I had a recumbent "closed" MRI, and nothing remarkable showed. Like you, my body was screaming something was wrong.

    I asked for a new script for an MRI, and I went and had what is called a "positional MRI" or "Stand Up MRI" if you will. The hernia showed bigger than stink! Except for my last MRI, all have been positional. Why? For me, my *lowest* pain position is laying down, and my worst is vertical positions.

    Your spine is then imaged 'under load', and so your doctor can then hopefully see what your spine is really going through better. The image quality too is on par with standard MRI's. Just a thought to chew on. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • advertisement
  • i myself just went for a new MRI, also an open MRI, the findings arent conclusive to pain that i feel. i agree that in order to properly diagnose the problem, the individual would need to be put in the position that causes them pain.(it would be a horrible MRI experience). however if one hour of severe pain figured out what what an individuals diagnosis was, i feel it would be well worth it.
    i also deal with getting brushed off because of my age, and therefore doctors make it harder on me and themselves trying to figure out these problems.
    positions i refer to are either sitting down, laying down or standing up.

  • I have to agree with that, I think next time I see the Dr I will ask for a standing or sitting MRI. I don't have much pain when laying down, it is mainly when I am sitting, or standing for more the 15 minutes. Its like my shoulders weight 1000lbs. Even the lay down MRI was a painful experience, I was so stiff and sore afterwards, but I thought it would be worth it (showing something) but hopefully a sitting or standing one would be worth it. I am not sure if my insurance would allow me 2 MRI's in a year, I had to have the first one approved before I could have it done but now I am regretting getting an open one. If my insurance doesn't approve it maybe they will let me do a payment plan...

    Lifeasweknowit - How long did it take them to diagnose your pain, if its diagnosed? What types of tests did you have done so far?

    Thanks everyone for the replies

    Take care,
  • There are also different types of Open MRIs now. So you can ask out of curiosity which one was used.

    And yes...to accomodate people who are larger or are claustrophobic...there is a slight difference in the magnetic field strength..But some are the same and greater..(Tesla scale)

    A regular MRI is 1.5 Tesla

    The one's below are all open ones.

    GE Open MRI (older one) .2 Tesla

    Toshiba Opart (older one) .35 Tesla

    And then the new ones:

    The Hitachi Altaire High Field Performance Open MRI has a .7

    The Siemens Symphony Short Bore MRI is 1.5 (Bore is the 'tube'...This one is used a lot..

    The Philips Intera 3.0 Tesla MRI...Actually has twice the field strength of a regular MRI

    So...As Ron has mentioned above...there are many newer one's that have just as good of imaging results..

    **Just know that the standing MRIs are .6 on the scale..yes they can show something a bit different with being positional...but then it sacrifices less of the image..So it's best for the Dr. to determine which one would be better.

    Also...Does the Dr. know that most of your pain is in your cervical region? Are you having symptoms that radiate down your arms into your hands/fingers? Or do you point out more to him in the thoracic region?

    As well as you need to be seen by a Board Certified Neurosurgeon..They are the most qualified for Cervical spine issues. Your GP does not have the qualifications and training in that area.

    I would certainly be making an appt. with one of these Dr.s and then go from there. Usually your insurance will cover if it's a different area based on what the Dr. writes in his orders. I would make sure beforehand though so you aren't caught with any bills.

    But even just getting started with a BC Neurosurgeon...he will do the appropriate physical exam...go over your MRI/X-ray results...be able to order Physical therapy, injections, etc.

    I wish you luck!!
  • advertisement
  • For me, I had horrible problems in my cervical area, so bad that even my first x-ray showed how bad everything was.

    My point is that all my pain started in my mid-upper back area - muscle spasms. So I agree that it would be wise to investigate your cervical area.


  • Wow you guys are great! I looked up the website of where I got the open MRI and it was a .3 Telsa so it seems a lot less then a regular one... Man I wish I would of researched before I went...

    When I first started having pain it was all just in the middle of my back, now over the years it seems to start at my neck (bottom of my head) and go all the way down to past my bra strap is and my GP thinks that its my thoracic area, I on the other hand have no idea LOL.

    I don't have any arm pain or tingling in my arms at all, so that's why I don't know if its cervical or thoracic. It feels like a lot of pressure on my neck shoulders and back, and its a constant deep ache. Every time the Dr touches my back he says how tight my muscles are, I have done massage therapy and she couldn't even get them lose. I don't know what it could be but its very painful and doesn't ever go away. I only feel relief laying down and sometimes not even then. Sitting is the worst and I have to do that 10 hours a day at my job with only 3 short breaks...

    I do have a referral to see an Orthopedic, hopefully I will know more once I see him/her.
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.