Over the years, healthcare has introduced a wide array of tools and devices to help improve the accuracy of diagnosis. These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). With it, physicians can see a person’s anatomy with excellent precision and detail. It might help spot problems before they even develop or get worse.
How Does MRI Work?
Live Science has a splendid explanation of the workings of an MRI. In summary:
- An electromagnetic field surrounds the machine, which also emits a radiofrequency current.
- In the body, the protons present in water react to the current, stimulating them to move and push against the electromagnetic field.
- Once someone turns off the MRI, the proton undergoes a process called precession, where they go back to their normal spin.
- During this process, the machine’s receivers measure the change of movement and then translate the information into an image.
A typical MRI machine is massive, with a bed tray where the patient lies for some time. Usually, it lasts for an hour to 90 minutes. The equipment then takes “different pictures” of the body part under investigation to provide the most comprehensive data on the patient’s health.
The Problem with MRIs
Although MRI is a powerful machine, it doesn’t sit well to all patients, especially those prone to anxiety or claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces).
According to mind.org.uk, at least one in four people in the country experiences anxiety symptoms or is diagnosed with the condition. Anxiety, particularly during such a procedure, can be a problem for the following reasons:
- It can affect the results as the stress and worry can cause changes in some parts of the body, such as the brain and the heart.
- It can make patients more fidgety. When in an MRI, the person should not move, so anxious people might have to repeat the same procedure many times. It might then aggravate their situation.
- It can decrease compliance. The patient might decide to cancel on the test because of stress and fear.
Fortunately, patients now have options. For example, they can consider an open MRI. The machine works the same way as the closed or standard one. However, an open MRI tool doesn’t have “walls” on the side.
Patients can then see their surroundings more clearly, while doctors and technicians can observe the patient’s demeanor or behavior during the procedure. Companions can also stay closer to the patient, which can make the process more comforting.
Although users still need to lie down either on the stomach or the back, some open MRIs allow standing upright.
Another option is the extremity MRI, which is a machine that works with the more visible body parts, such as the arms and legs.
Open MRIs have limitations. Because of their design, they might have a much weaker electromagnetic field. They might not capture clearer or more precise images compared to closed MRIs.
Nevertheless, options are always ideal, especially for those who struggle with anxiety. They can always discuss their choices with their specialist to ensure they can still get the most out of the procedure.