Comp Clues


The “Open versus Closed” M.R.I. Debate

Date: 03/01/2003

Recently, the debate over which is better, “high field” or “open” MRI systems was brought up. What is peculiar about the renewal of this argument is that it is over. In fact, it was over long ago. A recent trade publication noted that in excess of 60% of all M.R.I. systems being sold today are of the “open ” variety.   In fact many local hospitals, historically exclusive users of “high field” or “closed” systems, are today exclusively using open systems.  In an effort to educate our clients, Midwest Diagnostic Management (MDM) sought the expertise of Norman Pennington, M.D., of Midwest Medical Imaging, to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of both systems.  The highlights of Dr. Pennington’s comments are offered below.

There is a reason for the popularity of open systems. They are able to accommodate just about any type patient, while providing a maximum of comfort with little, if any, sacrifice in the quality of the images they produce. In days past, manufacturers emphasized that quality was strictly related to the strength of the magnet involved. However, as technology has progressed, the major advances have been in the computer hardware and software used to generate those images. Thus, the only real power to be concerned with is the ability of the computer analyzing the signals one gets from the MRI scanner.

There are some advantages to utilizing a high field system. They can save on the order of 5 to 10 minutes out of an hour on some scans. This may be helpful if you cannot hold still, are in a great deal of pain, or had a recent stroke.  However, it is equally important to point out that a larger patient or patients who are claustrophobic may not do well in the smaller confines of a closed machine.  For these types of patients there may also be a higher cost associated with completing their test in a high field system.  These additional costs often come in the form of sedatives or, worst case scenario, a second test in an open system should they not be capable of completing their test in the more uncomfortable closed system.

Both types of systems have the ability to produce excellent quality films, as well as poor quality films.  The keys to a successful test lie in selecting a system that a) best meets the physical needs of the patient, b) is run on updated hardware and software and c) is operated by quality technicians who are extensively trained.  Midwest Diagnostic Management takes all of these factors into consideration when scheduling your patients for a diagnostic procedure.  In fact, this process starts well before your referral is received, by only contracting with providers of diagnostic services who pass a rigorous credentialing process that takes into account their operating systems and technician and/or radiologist training.  Combine the highest quality network with superior customer service and reporting capabilities and you are left with Midwest Diagnostic Management as the country’s premier diagnostic referral management service.

To learn more on the “open versus closed” MRI debate or Midwest Diagnostic Management’s ability to serve all of your diagnostic referral needs, please call us at (800) 331-6062.