Hi-tech device designed to take the stress out of scans

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A STATE-of-the-art upright MRI scanner enabling patients to sit as they are scanned has opened in Yorkshire.

The device at a private centre in Armley, Leeds, is said to be only the second of its kind in the country and the fifth in the world.

It provides an alternative to conventional “tunnel” MRI which leaves some patients suffering from claustrophobia and anxiety.

The design also allows all parts of the body, particularly the spine and joints, to be scanned in a weight-bearing position to show the effect of gravity on the spine.

Patients can be imaged in a number of positions including sitting, stretching, bending, lying down and in their position of pain or simply standing.

Leeds Upright MRI Scanner Centre medical director Ben Timmis said: “The upright open scanner is designed to provide weight-bearing and positional imaging for patients in a non-claustrophobic environment.

“During the scan patients can see the radiographer at all times, are able to watch TV or a DVD, and can simply walk out once the scan is complete.”

Conventional MRI scans take place in a tunnel, where patients are scanned in a horizontal position.

Some patients find the experience unpleasant, while those who suffer from anxiety or are obese cannot undertake the procedure.

Patients who might benefit from an upright open MRI include those who are claustrophobic, larger, unable to lie on their back, or need to be observed during the scan.

All patients require a referral from a clinician to use the scanner.