Traditional Bore vs. Wide Bore MRI Imagers

Reviewed by AIMS Education Staff 

January 6, 2022


When it comes to the medical world, seemingly endless procedures, equipment, and machines work together to care for patients. The same idea applies to MRIs. For several years, you could only use one option for an MRI — the traditional closed bore machine. However, over time, other options have become available, such as the wide bore MRI.

Let's take a look at the differences between traditional and wide bore MRI imagers, which are two types of MRI machines.

What Is an MRI?

Most people have an idea of what an MRI is — but not everyone has experienced one. MRI stands for "magnetic resonance imaging," a process that uses powerful magnetic fields and high-frequency radio waves to provide images of the inside of a patient's body. Unlike X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans, MRIs are longer procedures. An MRI can take anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes to gather the right images.

The reason patients get MRIs is to help diagnose and treat internal health issues. These machines can take a detailed look at a person's brain, spinal cord, organs and more, ensuring doctors and specialists have the information they need to put patients on a path toward recovery. An MRI technologist will perform the MRI imaging process, and physicians will analyze the images to proceed with treatment.


How Does a Traditional Bore MRI Work?

A traditional MRI bore has a 23.6-inch, or 60-centimeter, bore. If you've never seen an MRI imager, visualize a donut. The machine features a bore, or a hole, where patients lie down inside so it can take images using a magnet.

Benefits of a Traditional Bore MRI

The main benefit of a traditional bore is its accuracy. Since the magnets are usually smaller in size, they have a higher sensitivity, which allows for stronger signals and more detailed pictures. This advantage is significant because the doctor will be able to more accurately diagnose the patient. Additionally, traditional bore MRIs have a strong magnetic strength and are very versatile.

Drawbacks of a Traditional Bore MRI

Though it does have some great benefits, traditional bore MRIs also have downsides: 

  • Potential to cause claustrophobia: Because the traditional bore is so small, patients who are claustrophobic will likely struggle to be calm and still in the area. Even people who aren't claustrophobic may find that the area makes them uncomfortable. Typically, the best option for extremely claustrophobic patients is to use an open MRI machine.
  • May require sedation: In an MRI, you have to remain completely still. If you're uncomfortable in the MRI machine to the point where you're subconsciously moving around, you may need to be sedated. Some people don't take well to sedation or anesthesia, so they may experience issues. 
  • Small in size: There's also a possibility that a patient won't fit into the bore. Often, patients who are larger in weight have to wait for wide bore MRIs so they can properly fit inside of the machine.

How Does a Wide Bore MRI Work?

The wide bore MRI will work like a traditional bore but with a larger hole. A typical wide bore machine will have about a 70-centimeter opening. That's only a 10cm more than a traditional bore, but it can make a significant difference for some patients.

Benefits of a Wide Bore MRI

Like the traditional bore, the wide bore has specific benefits:

  • More room: The extra 10 centimeters can be crucial for patients who are claustrophobic. Additionally, wide bore MRIs have more headroom, which helps for taller patients.
  • Can fit larger patients: As previously mentioned, larger patients may have issues fitting comfortably into a traditional MRI machine. With the wide bore machine, larger patients can comfortably fit into the bore for an MRI.
  • Higher weight capacity: This bore size can hold more weight than the traditional bore.

A wide bore MRI can be the best option for some patients to be able to successfully complete an MRI.

Drawbacks of a Wide Bore MRI

The central drawback of a wide bore MRI is that it lacks a traditional bore's image quality. While wide bore MRIs can still produce a great image, traditional bore machines are a touch superior when it comes to image quality.

Ultimately, the most important point to remember when it comes to MRIs is that the wide bore and the traditional are both excellent options. The type of bore used for patients will depend on a variety of factors, including why you're taking an MRI in the first place. The best way to be successful is to evaluate each patient and see what's best for them.

Learn More From the MRI Training Experts at AIMS Education

If you're looking to learn more about MRI technology, MRI technologists, or the procedure itself, check out AIMS Education to learn more. If you're interested in joining the MRI technologist field, AIMS can provide many opportunities to help you transition into the field. Let us be your leading resource for information about becoming an MRI technologist.

At AIMS, we offer an MRI technologist training program accredited by the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). The program is typically 26 months long. AIMS has clinical affiliations with many healthcare facilities, which allow students to gain practical experience through clinical internships.

Because MRIs are essential for patient health, the field continues to grow each year. If you're interested in becoming an MRI technologist, you'll be happy to know that thousands of jobs are available throughout hospitals and diagnostic imaging centers each year. This career is rewarding and lucrative, offering an opportunity for you to find a field of work you truly love.

If you'd like to discover more about the MRI program with AIMS, check out our MRI technologist page. Feel free to schedule a campus visit, where you'll get to tour the campus and meet with an admissions specialist, who will help you plan out the best career path for your strengths and interests. To ask questions, visit our contact us page, where you can find the contact information for each department on our campus. 

Kickstart your MRI career at AIMS today!