MRI Diagnostics – What you need to know

At one time or another we’ve all had an injury that needed a doctor’s attention. Occasionally, these injuries are only fully diagnosed with the assistance of an MRI image. For patients who aren’t claustrophobic, this evaluation tool causes no worries. But for those who are, it can be a stressful event.

The older generations of MRIs were small, dark and very loud. With advances in technology, these machines have evolved to be more patient-friendly. Larger cylinders with openings at both ends of the tunnel have helped those who need scans for spine, shoulder, hip, brain, and other regions of the trunk to have more pleasant experiences.

Open MRIs have become very popular for patients who just don’t feel comfortable in a standard MRI. These open units are best described as being like a sandwich. The MRI unit would be the top and the bottom pieces and the patient would be in the middle. The roomier design allows for greater comfort, however, the image quality on these units may not be as superb so physicians may not always recommend this option.

Additionally, there is the Open Extremity MRI. This machine is for patients with elbow, wrist, hand, ankle, foot and knee issues. Sitting or reclining in a chair, the patient simply slides the injured arm or leg into a small opening.  The patient must remain very still.  Reading and even taking naps, during the scan, are common activities among our patients. And the noise level is so low that ear plugs are not needed.  This option produces high quality scans and certainly offers the most patient-friendly experience.

Having a painful injury that requires diagnostic testing can be stressful as you wait for insurance certification, scheduling, and diagnosis. But knowing which options are best suited for you can eliminate stress and discomfort.

The physicians at Tennessee Orthopedic Clinic are available during your appointment to further discuss these and other diagnostic options.