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Open Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive, painless medical scan that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of organs, tissues, bones, joints and systems in the body. These high-resolution images are used by physicians to diagnose and treat medical conditions without the use of radiation, such as x-rays. The Open MRI machine is a large magnetic machine that is open on the sides and may be preferred for patients that are claustrophobic or are over the Highfield MRI weight limit.

Open MRI scanner


Before you schedule your Open MRI scan, let your physician know if any of the following apply to you:

•    Have asthma or allergies to food, medicine, or had previous reaction to MRI contrast (gadolinium)

•    Have health problems, such as kidney disease, hypertension or diabetes

•    On dialysis as patients on dialysis should not receive MRI contrast

•    Have recently had surgery or experienced trauma or injury

•    Are experiencing pain or other symptoms

•    Are being treated for any other medical problem

•    Have ever been diagnosed with cancer

•    Have had any other diagnostic tests for this condition

•    Are pregnant or if you are experiencing a late or missed menstrual cycle

•    Have claustrophobia or anxiety, as sedation medicine may be an option

•    Have breathing problems or motion disorder

•    Have tattoos

•    Have metal-based devices implanted

In most cases MRI scans can be safely and accurately performed on patients with metal-based implants. However, in certain instances, MRI scans can cause serious harm or result in distorted images. Let your physician know if you have:

•    Cardiac defibrillator or pacemaker

•    Aneurysm clips

•    Artificial heart valves

•    Artificial limbs or metal joints or limbs

•    Body piercings

•    Braces, dentures, dental plate, fillings or other dental work

•    Brain or nerve stimulators

•    Cochlear implants

•    Coils, pins, plates, screws, stents or surgical staples

•    Drug infusion ports or pumps

•    Hearing aid

•    Insulin pump

•    Internal electrodes or wires

•    Intrauterine device

•    Metal fragments, such as bullet or shrapnel or worked as a welder, machinist, grinder, or worked with metal without eye protection

•    Tattoos, tattooed eye/lip liner or body piercings 

•    Trans-dermal medication skin patches

If needed, an x-ray may be taken to identify the presence of metal objects. If it is determined there is an issue, your physician may choose another imaging procedure for you.

How to prepare
After Scheduling


After you schedule your Open MRI scan, be sure to fill out your forms on the Patient Portal any time before you arrive at your appointment. 



Note: Using a Lakeside-assigned SID number to complete your forms while at the facility does not set up a patient account. Please set up your account and complete your forms beforehand to access your medical information in the future.   


On the day of your Open MRI scan, eat and take medications as usual, unless instructed otherwise. Wear loose clothing without snaps or other metal fasteners. You may, however, be asked to wear a gown during the test.


Before entering the Open MRI scan room, you typically will be asked to remove items that may affect imaging or cause more serious problems, such as:  

•    Body piercings

•    Cell phone

•    Coins

•    Cosmetics that contain metal particles, including magnetic eye lashes

•    Credit cards

•    Dentures and other removable dental work

•    Eyeglasses

•    Hairpins

•    Hearing aids

•    Jewelry

•    Keys

•    Pens

•    Pocket knife

•    Tracking devices

•    Underwire bra

•    Watch

•    Wig

If your physician has included medication for claustrophobia or anxiety in the physician’s orders, you will be administered a sedative, at a separate charge, to help you relax prior to the Open MRI scan. If you expect to be sedated, do not eat 6 hours prior to the exam and have a driver with you for your release. However, most patients do not require sedation for an Open MRI scan.

Day of the test
What to Expect



Before the Open MRI Scan Begins

The Open MRI scanner is a large magnetic machine that is open on the sides and may be preferred for patients that are claustrophobic or are over the Highfield MRI weight limit. You lie on a table that slides into the machine and images are captured during a series of brief scans.

Coils may be placed around the part of the body being imaged. Bolsters may also be used to help keep you still as movement during the scanning sequence will distort images and require that sequence to be repeated. Each series typically takes only a few minutes, with the total Open MRI scan time ranging from 30 minutes to over an hour.


For Open MRI scans that require contrast, an IV is inserted before the scan begins. After a series of sequences, the MRI scan will be paused and the contrast injector will be engaged, at which point the contrast begins to flow. The MRI scan will then resume. 


The contrast is non-iodine based and can temporarily leave a metallic taste in your mouth, which is normal. You will need to drink extra water following your exam to help flush the dye from your system.


Before the table slides into the Open MRI scanner, the MRI technologist will explain the scanning process and answer any questions you may have. Also, for your comfort, the technologist will offer you:

  • ​Pillows 

  • Socks and a warm blanket, as the Open MRI scan room is kept at a cool temperature

  • Earplugs to reduce noise

During the Open MRI Scan

Once in the Open MRI scanner, the MRI technologist will return to the control room to conduct the test, while monitoring you through the window and providing instructions over the two-way intercom. 


If you start to feel uncomfortable or need to communicate with the technologist, use the call button, in the form of a squeeze ball. You will be able to speak with the technologist at any time through the intercom. If the Open MRI scan is stopped, that test sequence will need to be repeated from the beginning. 


During the Open MRI scan you will hear loud tapping and thumping sounds, which can be muffled by headphones or ear plugs. You might feel a slight tingling sensation, which is caused by the MRI stimulating the nerves in the body  and is completely normal. It is also normal for the area of the body being scanned to feel slightly warm.

Usually the patient is in the only one in the room. However, a patient can have an adult with them, if they have also been screened for safety. 

After the Open MRI Scan

After the Open MRI scan, the technologist will review the images to see if any additional are required. Once satisfied with the image results, you will be released. 


If you did not require sedation, there is no recovery period. You may resume your normal activities and diet. However, if you were given sedation, you will be released to your driver.    


Some physicians prefer that you bring a CD of the images to your follow up appointment; however, most often, images are electronically sent to the radiologist for review and then the report is sent directly to your referring physician. Patients are asked to make a follow-up appointment with their doctor to discuss the results. 



What is an Open MRI scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive, painless medical scan that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of organs, tissues, bones, joints and systems in the body. These high-resolution images are used by physicians to diagnose and treat medical conditions without the use of radiation, such as x-rays. 


How long does the Open MRI scan take?
The scan can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the area(s) to be scanned, the number of images required, and if contrast material is used. 

Can I move while I am getting an Open MRI scan?
It is important that you do not move while the machine is scanning, as movement will cause distortion of the images. However, the scan time for each sequence is only a couple of minutes. Then you can relax for a moment, if needed.


What options do I have if I am claustrophobic?

You can request that your physician send a referral for a sedative. However, patients are generally less claustrophobic on the Open MRI scanner. 

Can I get an Open MRI scan with braces or fillings?
Yes; however, depending on the area to be scanned, the metal may distort the images. Discuss this with your physician before making your appointment. 

Can I get an Open MRI scan if I am pregnant?
It is recommended that patients in their first trimester of pregnancy do not have an MRI scan unless it is essential. However, pregnant patients should not use contrast dye for their test at all. Pregnant patients in their second or third trimester are generally safe to have an MRI scan on our Open MRI machine. Tell your physician if you are or could be pregnant before scheduling your MRI exam.  


Are there any side effects from an Open MRI?

Side effects from an Open MRI are extremely rare. However, in some instances, the contrast dye may cause flushing, nausea, headaches, and pain or burning at the injection site. Even more rarely, a patient may begin to have allergic symptoms, such as hives or itchy eyes. If this happens, notify the technologist immediately. The reaction to contrast dye can range from a minimal or minor skin rash to more severe reactions that may require additional medical attention.

In cases of severe renal insufficiency, Gadolinium may cause nephrogenic system fibrosis (NSF). NSF is a rare skin condition that is brought on by poor kidney function. You will be screened for NSF prior to receiving contrast. Patients on dialysis will not be administered MRI contrast due to NSF risk.


More serious reactions occur very infrequently. These include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, convulsions, kidney failure, shock, a blood clot, and tissue damage at the site of the injection. Studies indicate the chance of a serious reaction is about 2 in 1000, or .002%.  




Very well run facility. Very professional. Clean, comfortable and easy peazy. Highly recommend.


WOW!! What a wonderful experience I had here at Lakeside! From the appointment scheduling, the timeliness of getting me back to the room for my ultrasound... what a pleasant and positive experience!! Thank you so much!!


Great place to get imaging done. From IV to patients care, wonderful experience for us.

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