What is Upright MRI?

Unlike traditional enclosed MRI scanners, which require the patient to enter a narrow tunnel, upright and open MRI requires the patient to sit, stand or lie between two large magnetised plates. From a patient experience perspective, the key impact of this difference is that there is nothing immediately in front of or above you during the scan.

You can see out at all times, and you can even watch TV whilst you have your scan. Patients who have struggled to tolerate traditional supine MRI generally find upright and open MRI much more pleasant – and even the most anxious and claustrophobic individuals are able to obtain the imaging they require.

The unique design on these upright and open MRI scanners also come with other benefits. Patients are able to simply walk in and be scanned in a variety of positions – a technique that is known as either ‘positional’ or ‘weight-bearing’ MRI. This allows for patients to be scanned in the exact position they experience pain, or for the spine and joints to be imaged under the effects of gravity. We can even scan the spine in multiple positions – for example, flexion and extension.

Many people who experience back or joint pain report that it either improves or disappears entirely when lying down – and for this reason many undergo inconclusive traditional supine MRI. Upright MRI allows for a more comprehensive diagnosis for these patients.

Unfortunately, there are some compromises. Whilst traditional supine scanners have a high strength magnetic field – generally 1.5T, but sometimes up to 3T – upright and open MRI scanners have a lower field strength.

The scanners that we operate are 0.6T (London) and 0.5T (Leeds and Birmingham) – and whilst this has little impact on musculoskeletal or neurological imaging, it does mean we aren’t able to perform soft tissue scans.

Please see the table below for a summary of the scans we can and cannot perform:



Leeds / Birmingham





MRA of Head and Neck


Cervical Spine


Thoracic Spine


Lumbar Spine






Pelvis (orthopaedic imaging)


Unable to scan as a whole part

Individual Hips


SI Joints
















Soft Tissue Neck


Non contrast Circle of Willis


Non contrast carotids


Contrast enhanced MRA








For more detailed information, please see our ‘Advantages of Upright MRI’ page, aimed at Healthcare Professionals.

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44 Newman Street, London W1T 1QD

020 7637 2888info@uprightmri.co.uk

United Open MRI Ltd Registered in England and Wales Number:
4376558 Registered office 40 - 44 Newman Street, London W1T 1QD