One advantage of upright MRI machines over reclining ones is that the lack of a narrow tunnel lets them accommodate plus-sized people more easily and makes them less scary for claustrophobic people, explains Advanced Diagnostics. They produce less noise, so patients can watch TV while receiving scans.
In some cases, open MRI photos provide doctors with a more accurate representation of the patient's condition, notes Advanced Diagnostics. For example, a patient may experience most of his back pain while he is sitting down or standing up, in which case performing his imaging study with him in an upright position allows the doctor to see what his spine and back tissue look like when he is in the position that causes the most discomfort.
Upright MRIs make it possible to perform something called a dynamic MRI, states Health Diagnostics. This type of imaging study involves taking scans of the inside of the patient's body while the patient moves the body in different ways. For example, a dynamic MRI allows the doctor to observe the cervical and lumbar spines in both the flexed and extended states. Because upright MRIs let doctors view the inside of the body while performing different movements, doctors are sometimes able to spot issues that they may miss or underestimate when looking at images from reclining MRIs.