The Upright Positional MRI System offers the unique possibility of scanning patients in an upright or weight-bearing position compared to the conventional supine MRI position. Supine scans may not detect certain pathology that become visible only when the patient is in an upright or weight-bearing position: this is especially the case with conditions affecting the spine.
It is now possible to examine the patient under natural load; the intervertebral discs, for example, are exposed to a pressure that is 6-times higher when sitting than when supine. These load dependent changes can reveal pathology either not visible or underestimated in the supine position.
The Upright Positional MRI method is also the only procedure that allows examination of the spine in various body postures. The patient can be examined in varying degrees of flexion or extension, rotating, or bending laterally – to the position where they experience most pain.
It is now possible to image and clearly prove instabilities as a result of vertebral slipping or position-dependent disc herniation that may either be underestimated or undiagnosed when imaged supine. It is possible to examine spinal canal and nerve exits in greater detail while they are in functional positions: they may have a normal width while lying down but may be pathologically narrowed during flexion or hyperextension of the spine.
The technical specifications of our truly open Upright scanner mean that post-operative patients’ scans will have smaller metal artefacts from surgical hardware than on a conventional scanner.
Upright MRI has many other applications in the realm of Musculoskeletal imaging and Sports Medicine. For example, knees, hips, feet and ankles may all benefit from a weight-bearing scan, as patients often complain about pain only when standing or walking.
This truly open MRI system also has appeal to those who are unable to undertake conventional scans due to claustrophobia or large body habitus-or are unable to lie down comfortably due to certain conditions like kyphosis. It is also a radiation-free way to evaluate scoliosis in the standing position.