shutterstock_1927853270-1.jpegIf you're like most people, when you hear the word 'MRI,' you think of a large, donut-shaped machine. Maybe this image comes with feelings of anxiety, claustrophobia, or fear. But what if we told you there was a different kind of MRI?

At Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, we're dedicated to using cutting-edge, reliable technology to help diagnose and treat our patients while keeping them comfortable. In this month's blog post, we're going to discuss one of our new state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, the Open MRI, including what it is, how it differs from a traditional MRI and other scanning methods, and its benefits.

How Does A Traditional MRI Work?

From their inception, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines have allowed us to better study and diagnose what's going on inside a patient's body. A traditional MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped device that a patient lies inside of while the machine uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to take high-quality pictures of the inside of the body. These pictures can then be used to diagnose various conditions, including issues with the patient's bones, joints, muscles, or nervous system.

While an MRI can provide invaluable information about your health, it's not always the most comfortable experience. The machine is large and can be quite loud, which can be overwhelming for some patients. Additionally, because it places you inside a small, confined space, many people feel claustrophobic during a traditional MRI. This can be particularly difficult because an MRI requires you to be extremely still for several minutes.

What Is An Open MRI?

An Open MRI is exactly what it sounds like: an MRI machine that is, well, open! Instead of placing your whole body inside of an enclosed tube, an open MRI is performed by putting just the injured extremity into a smaller MRI machine.

This type of machine uses the same technology as a traditional MRI to provide high-quality images of the inside of your body. In fact, the open MRI machines we use at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists allow us to capture even clearer images than traditional MRI machines, which in turn allows our experts to make more accurate diagnoses.

Plus, because our machines only require you to put your foot and ankle inside, many of our patients find this type of MRI to be much more comfortable. By providing a quieter, more comfortable experience for our patients and getting higher-quality, extremely clear diagnostic images, our Open MRI machines allow us to better serve our patients.

When Is An MRI Necessary?

Doctors use many devices to get a look inside the human body, including MRI machines, x-ray machines, ultrasound machines, and more. The experts at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists use all of these machines to diagnose and treat our patients. But what kind of issue or injury would require an MRI?

For a person experiencing pain or discomfort in the foot or ankle, an x-ray may be a good place to start. X-rays can give us a look at the bones in your feet and ankles to check for breaks, fractures, or other issues. However, x-rays cannot provide information about the soft tissues in your feet.

An ultrasound, on the other hand, can be used to take a look at these soft tissues. By using sound waves, this diagnostic tool can create an image of the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other soft tissues in your feet, making them particularly helpful in diagnosing issues like Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

However, in some cases, your doctor will want a clearer image of everything going on in your foot, and that's where an MRI comes in. An MRI can provide a detailed, clear image of both the bones and soft tissues in your foot or ankle, making it an invaluable tool in diagnosing a wide range of conditions. For example, an MRI can detect tumors, herniations, degeneration, and other issues an x-ray or ultrasound won't pick up.

Is An Open MRI Right For Me?

At Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, we use the latest and greatest diagnostic technology to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care. If you're experiencing pain or discomfort in your foot or ankle, we may recommend an Open MRI to get a clear look at what's going on.

During your appointment, one of our expert providers will sit down with you to discuss all of your options and help you decide if an MRI is right for you. If it is, we'll walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have so that you can feel confident and comfortable going into your procedure.

We understand that dealing with foot or ankle pain can be frustrating, and we're here to help. Get in touch with the experts at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists by scheduling an appointment online or calling (847) 639-5800, and let us help you get on the road to recovery!