How 3.0T Wide Bore Imaging is Shifting from Research to Patient Care

Until the last 15 years, 3.0T wide bore imaging was used solely for medical research. However, in recent years it has begun to play an important role in the clinical setting for patient care.

 Not every clinic has a wide bore scanner, but this type of scanner becomes a necessity when a patient is large or when they are claustrophobic. Having an accessible scanner for these types of patients is critical to them receiving the intricate diagnostic care they need.

The Differences Between Open and Closed MRI

Some technicians refer to wide bore imaging as open bore, but they do have their differences.  The “bore”, or area where the patient is scanned, differs amongst these models. An open MRI is open on three to four sides depending on the manufacture and model. This type of machine is very accessible for large and claustrophobic patients. For these patients, having the large open space to lay in greatly improves their MRI experience.

 However, open MRI does have its drawbacks.  The magnet strength of an open MRI tops out around 1.2T, instead of the typical 1.5T or 3.0T strength. Also, the scan itself generally takes one and a half to two times longer than a closed bore scan to produce a comparable image.

In comparison, closed bore MRIs have excellent image quality, speed and strong magnet strength of 1.5T or 3.0T1. This type of machine usually provides better anatomical detail. However, the narrow opening of the closed bore is typically around 60cm, which tends to make patients feel claustrophobic and doesn’t allow large patients to fit properly.  

Wide bore MRIs combine the benefits of the closed bore MRIs with the space of open bore MRIs.

Benefits of Wide Bore MRIs

Benefits for patients

With around 1 in 3 adults falling into the obesity category in the United States, many people cannot fit into the smaller 60cm opening that comes with a closed bore MRI machine. The opening of a wide bore MRI is typically around 70cm. The space is much large inside and patients with claustrophobia are generally more comfortable receiving a scan.

Some physicians even believe that wide bore MRIs help make patients less claustrophobic than an open bore MRI, because in open MRIs the magnet is placed very close the patients face. In addition, wide bore MRIs offer patients the option to enter the machine feet first rather than head first. This helps patients overcome their fears and allows them to still benefit from an MR scan.

Most wide bore machines also come with improved table cushioning which benefits overall image quality and can decrease motion artifacts in the image. Traditional MRI tables are hard and rigid, often causing patients to move around on the table to find a more comfortable position. This movement ends up creating distortion in the image.

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Benefits for clinicians

Upgrading or changing an MRI scanner is no easy decision for a clinic. However, MR accessibility is critical for so many people, particularly patients who have conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and a history of strokes. Opting for a wide bore scanner gives clinicians the ability to accommodate all patients.

Wide bore MRIs also benefit clinics economically in many ways1:

  • Patient preparation time is reduced as many no longer need to be sedated
  • Patient comfort is increased, less movement during scan
  • Image quality is high, fewer rescans needed
  • Fast scan time, more scans can be conducted during operating hours
  • Moving through the diagnostic process more quickly reduces costs for everyone

While some clinicians may feel hesitant about the use of wide bore imaging due to a presumed loss in image quality, many physicians actually believe the quality of imaging is all-around better.

For example, some non-contrast imaging approaches allow smaller fields of view to be scanned, while still producing the same amount of detail as closed MRIs. In many cases patients no longer require as much contrast, improving upon overall cost, patient safety, and toxicity.

Now that wide bore imaging is making its move into the familiar clinical setting, patients and clinicians alike can benefit from greater MRI accessibility. As imaging approaches and techniques advance, patients may find that wide bore MR becomes the new norm for them.

Learn more about 3.0t wide bore scanners.


  1. Closed Bore- Open Bore- Wide Bore- Don’t be Fooled Again!, 2015, Atlantis Worldwide, (accessed 26 June 2018)