Some patients wonder whether they should get an “open MRI” or a “closed MRI.”  An open MRI might be more comfortable and appealing, but many do not understand that it is very low resolution and a poor-quality study.  The reason for this is that it is difficult to get the open MRI magnetic field strength above 0.3 Teslas.  In comparison, a closed MRI will have approximately 5 times the magnetic field strength.  What does this mean? Your scan will take a lot longer and miss pathology…It takes much longer to make each slice on your MRI using an open magnet, and during this time you will be moving a lot more. Therefore there will be motion artifact, which is the enemy of radiologists.

This all may sound technical but the summary is that while an open MRI may be more spacious, it is poor quality.  A closed MRI is less comfortable but high quality.

What if you could combine the best of both world?  This is called a hybrid MRI.


A hybrid MRI has comfort and high magnetic field strength for maximum quality, usually 1.5 Teslas.  The bore (ie the doughnut hole that you lie in) is large, usually the largest commercially available bore.  Your feet can stick out because the actual magnet is not a long tube would rather shorter, so you can read the paper or whatever without feeling claustrophobic during her MRI.  You can run all the sequences on a hybrid that you can on a closed magnet, whereas the closed magnet is not powerful enough to run all the sequences that he may need.

The radiology world agrees that open MRIs are not good quality, and in fact they are no longer really making open MRIs.  If you were to go to RSNA, Radiological Society of North America, the largest vendor convention for radiology in the world located in Chicago at the McCormick Center every winter, you would not find any open MRI vendors.  However, even though they are not making open MRIs anymore, many centers in Tampa still have them and have the audacity to advertise them to patient’s.

We hope that this article will allow you to be a Savvy consumer.  Do not be fooled into having an open MRI just because it sounds like it is more comfortable.  You may be more comfortable but have a negative study that completely misses your pathology, and that is not worth it.  Once you have a negative study, you may still have symptoms, but it will be a lot more difficult for your insurance to authorize a repeat examination.  Remember, the insurance is not care about the quality of your examination.

Think of the difference between a Hubble telescope and a kid looking into a Fisher Price toy telescope.  They may both be called a “star study” and the insurance will consider them the same so they can reimbuse the same for each study using this analogy, but obviously one is a lot higher quality than the other, and one is going to miss a lot. Insurance doesn’t always care about quality, but we do.

To our knowledge, there is only one place in the Tampa Bay area where you can get evaluated on a hybrid MRI examination, and that is Bayview Radiology.