No matter how critical it is to find out what’s going on inside their bodies, a number of people cannot handle the close confines of a magnetic resonance imaging machine, otherwise known as an MRI.
The tunnel-like imaging device requires patients to lie still for a period of time, which can be difficult to do inside what feels like a human-sized tube.
The good news for those patients is that there is another option called an open MRI, and it will be offered at UF Health North. The device obtains the same quality images, but it’s open on the sides, helping to prevent that claustrophobic feeling.
“The most exciting part for me is that this is a high-field open MRI,” explained Paul Wasserman, DO, chief of musculoskeletal radiology at UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health North. “Most open MRI machines use weak, low-field magnets that yield poor quality images. With a high-field open MRI, it’s the best of both worlds because you’re combining great image quality with a more comfortable experience for the patient.”
MRIs are one of the most advanced techniques available to obtain precise images of the inside of the body. They do not use ionizing radiation, but rather very strong magnets and radio waves. There are no known side effects; however, a significant number of patients can become anxious during the exam.
Wasserman said claustrophobia is a common problem that he sees patients struggle with.
“A significant number of people cannot tolerate getting into that tube in a traditional MRI. Many don’t realize they’ll feel that way until they get here,” he said.
The high-field open MRI is a first in North Jacksonville and one of the first in the region overall. In addition to combatting claustrophobia, the machine is more accommodating for larger patients. It also offers extra comfort for the tiniest of patients, because mom or dad can stand next to the machine when a child needs an MRI.
“The parent can actually hold the child’s hand and comfort them during the MRI,” said Wasserman, a father to two young children, himself.
Other imaging services to be offered at UF Health North include:
- Computed tomography scans, better known as CT or CAT scans
- Arthrography, used to look inside joints
- Oncologic imaging known as single-photon emission commuted tomography, or SPECT
- Nuclear medicine
Wasserman said UF Health North has the newest and latest versions of every kind of imaging equipment. For example, its newest CT scanner has spectral imaging capability. The high-tech machine can perform scans at two energy levels, making it sensitive enough to detect conditions like gout, but also sophisticated enough to deal with any orthopedic ”hardware” within the patient that would normally degrade image quality.
Wasserman said he is excited about bringing a new level of care to North Jacksonville.
“The area has dramatically transformed from one lacking in health care facilities to a modern health care center in a short amount of time,” he said.
If you would like to go to UF Health North for radiology services, you need a referral from your doctor for the service you require. When you schedule an appointment, you can specifically request to be seen at UF Health North.
Paul L. Wasserman, DO, MHCM
Chief, Division of Musculoskeletal Radiology