Both UpRight/Open MRI scanner designs provide alternative means of accessing this technology compared to the more traditional closed bore design systems, and are often preferred by patients(1,2). By design these are more open and less invasive, providing more space within them for a more comfortable experience. Due to their construction, they are also quieter than a conventional scanner which further improves the experience where the loud noises usually generated are a source of distress (3). They help improve accessibility to MRI for those patients who may have additional requirements, such as those that are obese, claustrophobic, or under 6 years of age.

UpRight scanners in particular allow patients to be scanned in an upright, weight bearing position rather than lying down, which can be more comfortable and feel less enclosing(4). But also their unique design enables the scanner to capture images of the body under natural conditions, where the weight of the body can have different impacts on certain structures which may not be seen when lying down(5). Ultimately Upright MRI scanners represent an important tool in modern medical imaging and provide a safe, comfortable and effective alternate means of accessing MRI.



Two key benefits to consider when accessing Open/Upright scanners:


  1. Safer: As an alternative to conventional MRI, the experience of these scanner designs may not require the need for sedation or anxiolytics to successfully complete a scan. Therefore whilst MRI itself is considered a safe imaging technique without the use of ionising radiation, the need for sedation or anxiolysis comes with its own set of risks and side effects(6). There is also increasing caution in the use of anxiolytics within the community setting from GPs, and access to general anaesthetic lists within the hospital setting can add increasing delays to patient waits. This is where use of any pharmacological intervention can be avoided through the use of Open, upright scanners which reduce any claustrophobic response and are more tolerable by patients.


  1. Cost Benefit Analysis: Whilst the cost of an open/upright scan is comparatively higher than that of a conventional scanner itself, it can be considered more cost effective when pursuing a scan via sedation or anxiolytics. Let’s consider the resources and equipment that are required for such a procedure. Two Radiographers would typically be required to conduct the scan, as well as an anaesthetist, nurse and a doctor on site to ensure safety. We’d also need to absorb the equipment, energy and consumables costs involved. In addition to this, we’d need to factor in the cost for a day care bed for recovery purposes. Finally, after considering the foregone capacity of being able to scan a patient who doesn’t require this alternative approach and therefore only adding to a national backlog, it’s clear the benefits of referring the patient to a specialist Upright MRI clinic – more than offsets the costs involved.



Enquire for a Scan at Upright MRI

If you or someone you know needs to get a scan as soon as possible, Upright MRI can help. We accept private patient and NHS patient referrals for open upright MRI scans at our clinics in Central London, Leeds and Birmingham.  You don’t even require a referral but you can simply self-refer online.

Read our FAQ page if you have questions about our procedures and fill out our enquiry form for consultations and other concerns.




  1. Enders J, Zimmermann E, Rief M, Martus P, Klingebiel R, Asbach P, et al. Reduction of claustrophobia with short-bore versus open magnetic resonance imaging: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2011;6(8):1–10.
  2. Iwan E, Yang J, Enders J, Napp AE, Rief M, Dewey M. Patient preferences for development in MRI scanner design: a survey of claustrophobic patients in a randomized study. Eur Radiol. 2020;
  3. Funk E, Thunberg P, Anderzen-Carlsson A. Patients’ experiences in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and their experiences of breath holding techniques. J Adv Nurs. 2014;70(8):1880–90.
  4. Hudson DM, Heales C, Meertens R. Review of claustrophobia incidence in MRI: A service evaluation of current rates across a multi-centre service. Radiography [Internet]. 2022;(xxxx). Available from:
  5. Nguyen HS, Doan N, Shabani S, Baisden J, Wolfla C, Paskoff G, et al. Upright magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine: Back pain and radiculopathy. J Craniovertebr Junction Spine. 2016;7(1):31–7.
  6. Artunduaga M, Liu CA, Morin CE, Serai SD, Udayasankar U, Greer MLC, et al. Safety challenges related to the use of sedation and general anesthesia in pediatric patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging examinations. Pediatr Radiol. 2021;51(5):724–35.


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