MRI System Comparison: Open, Closed, and Wide-Bore

What are the differences between a Closed, Open, and Wide-Bore MRI?

What’s the best fit for your facility?

With multiple MRI options available on the market, understanding the differences between Open, Closed and Wide-Bore MRI systems is crucial.

This system comparison guide addresses key concerns surrounding  patient comfort and accessibility, image quality, cost considerations, space requirements, and alignment with patient demographics and needs.

If you’re navigating the realm of MRI systems and find yourself uncertain about these aspects, we’re here to help!



Do you already know exactly what kind of MRI you need? 

Fill out our Equipment Request form to receive a quote from our dedicated Equipment team!

Request Equipment Pricing




Open, Closed, Wide MRI: What's the Difference?



Closed-Bore MRI

A closed-bore MRI is the most traditional MRI option. It also has the most powerful field magnetic strength. One of the distinctions between a closed MRI and an open MRI lies in the size of the opening where the patient is positioned.

In a closed MRI system, the space where the patient lies is elongated and narrow, resembling a capsule. This design limits patient movement. 

The typical closed-bore MRI has a magnetic strength of 1.0T through 3.0T with a bore diameter of 60 cm.




Wide-Bore MRI

There has been a push among manufacturers to continue bringing high image clarity while widening the bore for patients who can't fit in a 60 cm opening or cannot convince themselves to be placed in that opening.

Several manufacturers have responded by introducing “wide-bore” systems into this higher-field magnet category. While these systems don’t create a wider field of view, they do create a more comfortable atmosphere for the patient.


Open MRI Block Imaging


Open MRI 

Open MRI machines have two flat magnets positioned over and under the patient. This is perhaps, one of its most important features. The extra space increases patient comfort and provides an unobstructed view of the scanning area, rendering them well-suited for specific types of scans, such as brain scans.

Among these systems are generally .2T and .3T magnets with a few systems as high as .7 or even 1.0T.


Patient Comfort and Accessibility


Traditional, Closed MRI systems have the smallest bore of all MRIs. With a bore opening of only 60cm, patient mobility is significantly reduced. Typically, these systems have limited flexibility in accommodating patient positions. The enclosed space may trigger patients who struggle with claustrophobia.


Most closed-bore MRI systems offer around 20% more space than traditional Closed MRIs. With a wider bore and a weight limit of 550 pounds, Wide-bore MRIs allow facilities to scan larger patients. Their improved design increases patient flexibility and may help alleviate feelings of claustrophobia and anxiety.


Unlike closed and wide MRI machines, Open MRIs are designed to be extremely spacious and flexible. With 3 open sides, an open MRI features the largest and least confining design. Two flat magnets are positioned over and under the patient, which reduces patient claustrophobia and makes scans more accessible for patients with limited mobility.


Image Quality


Closed MRI systems typically have magnet strengths ranging from 1.5 to 3.0 Tesla. These strong magnetic fields enable rapid scanning and high-quality images. The shape of the closed MRI allows for detailed images of areas that other systems have difficulty scanning.


 Wide MRI machines combine the spaciousness found in open MRI systems and the high-quality imaging capabilities of closed MRI machines. While the images may not reach the level of detail that a closed MRI can achieve, they are still superior to an open MRI.


Although the open MRI provides flexibility and ample space, its magnetic field strength is significantly lower. This, along with its design, poses challenges in generating high-quality images. Due to these limitations, open MRI systems may not always be suitable for certain diagnostic needs.


Cost considerations

Factors such as maintenance expenses, service, installation, and the initial purchase price contribute to the overall cost involved in acquiring an MRI system.

Overall, an open MRI system is typically priced lower than a closed or wide MRI system, due to its lower maintenance costs and its imaging capabilities. To dive into specific pricing and comparisons, check out our MRI Price Guide.

For maintenance and service contracts, MRI manufacturers can charge on average, $500/hour of service or $1k-10k/month. Fortunately, Block Imaging provides fully customizable service plans that are tailored to fit your specific needs so that you don’t end up paying for services you don’t need.


Space Requirements

The recommended MRI room size depends on the type of MRI machine purchased. Keep in mind that an MRI suite has three separate rooms: one to house the patient, one for the equipment, and one control room.

The average space needed for an MRI suite is around 800-850 square feet. Open MRIs will require more square footage because they have a larger design.

Since every manufacturer has a variety of MRI system sizes, it is best to consult with your vendor to make sure a system can fit in the available space.


Patient Demographics and Needs

As you’re evaluating different MRI systems, identifying your patient demographic should be a factor in your decision-making. Things like age, body type, medical condition, and patient preference should all be considered.

Different age groups may have varying needs and preferences regarding space and mobility. Patients with heavier body types or specific medical conditions may require access to wider or more flexible scanning options.

If patients have sensory sensitivities or cognitive impairments, options that reduce noise levels, or minimize visual stimuli might be more comfortable.

For underserved populations, a facility may want to prioritize MRI equipment that balances cost-effectiveness with diagnostic capabilities.

The Takeaway

Depending on your budget and the nature of the studies you perform most often, you have options when searching for your next MRI solution. As you evaluate your options, we suggest that you keep these factors in mind:

  • Comfort and accessibility for patients
  • The system's capabilities and image clarity
  • The overall expense of the system
  • Spatial requirements within the facility
  • Patient demographics and needs

If your clinic or hospital is in search of MRI equipment, parts, or service support, we can help! Contact our team below and we'll do our best to provide you with the information you need to make it successful.


Do you already know exactly what kind of MRI you need? 

Fill out our Equipment Request form to receive a quote from our dedicated Equipment team!

Request Equipment Pricing

Picture of Steve Rentz

Steve Rentz

Steve Rentz is the Product Manager for MRI Scanners at Block Imaging. Steve's goal is to earn each customer's trust and business by specifically addressing the needs of their unique project. When Steve is not helping customers with their MRI needs, he enjoys running, swimming, and woodworking.