Health Team

New MRI is for claustrophobic and larger patients

Posted January 9, 2009 1:43 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

Roger Judd uses at an open-bore MRI machine at Raleigh Radiology that allows him to overcome his claustrophobia.

— New equipment offers relief for patients who fear tight spaces or are too large to fit into a normal MRI scanning machine.

Thirteen years ago, a car wreck forced Roger Judd to get an MRI scan of his back. But Judd's expectations that the procedure would go smoothly didn't hold up once he got in the machine.

"I felt like I was in a coffin," Judd said. "When you're laying there, the top of the scanner is within 2 inches of your nose. And it just freaked me out."

Judd found out he is claustrophobic. "I don't like tight places," he said. "They had to take me out (of the MRI machine) three times. But, man, that was a miserable 20 minutes."

However, Judd underwent a scan recently without a hitch.

He used the open-bore MRI at Raleigh Radiology. It has a bigger opening for people, such as Judd, who fear small spaces or for very obese patients who cannot fit into the standard units.

"This one, I almost went to sleep, it was so relaxing," Judd said.

"It still offers patients the comfort of almost like a CT scan with a large bore without losing image quality," Dr. Jeffrey Browne, with Raleigh Radiology, said.

The unit uses the same standard-strength magnet as the smaller-bore MRIs, but produces images that are just as clear. The key to that quality, Browne said, is that patients are more comfortable.

"That allows them to hold still, and therefore the images actually are of better quality in many cases," Browne said.

In addition to Raleigh Radiology, WakeMed and Rex Hospitals offer patients the option of an open-bore MRI.