Stand up for health: Vertical MRIs claim to offer a better look at patient problems

If your doctor orders a MRI, you don’t have to take it lying down.

No, really. You don’t.

At Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida, clients are scanned in an open, upright MRI. The technology isn’t new; it was developed and patented a decade ago by FONAR, the company owned by magnetic resonance imaging pioneer Raymond Damadian.

Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida, located at 4521 Executive Drive off Immokalee Road, says it is the first to offer it locally, however.

In a traditional MRI scan, patients are required to recline fully. With stand-up MRIs, the machine can be positioned in a variety of ways, allowing the patient to lean slightly back, all the way or somewhere in between. The stand-up MRI also allows patients to sit, and to have their neck extend forward or backward, depending on the doctor’s orders.

This range of positioning means that the scan can ultimately prove more accurate, explained Michael Dambroski, the center’s site director.

“We can see the changes that happen in the spine when you move from a neutral upright position to a flexion or extension position,” Dambroski said.

For patients who suffer back pain, a stand-up MRI can be especially ideal, he continued.

Back pain patients often lie down to relieve their discomfort. That’s a welcome relief for the sufferer, but since it relaxes the spine, it’s not the best way to reveal where there may be spinal troubles. In a traditional MRI, the patient is reclined.

A stand-up MRI, by contrast, requires a weight-bearing pose and can allow compressions, bulges, herniations and spinal instabilities to appear on the MRI scan.

“Those are areas that can be missed when lying down,” Dambroski said.

North Naples chiropractor James Bergtold refers many of his patients to Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida. He considers a stand-up MRI 20 percent more effective in discovering herniations than a static MRI.

“I’ve had it where I can only pick up the herniation in a flexion or extension view, but not in the static,” Bergtold said.

Bergtold noted that a stand-up MRI is a solution for those patients who don’t like the enclosed space of a traditional MRI. The stand-up MRI is open, and patients walk into the scanning platform. For patients who feel claustrophobic in a conventional MRI scan, a stand-up MRI is an appealing alternative.

“The imaging is just the same, just as good, and you don’t have that claustrophobic feeling,” Bergtold said. “It’s very-user friendly.”

But Dambroski added that stand-up MRIs are not only for back patients or those patients with a fear of tight spaces.

“We can do any body part and our image quality is phenomenal,” he said.

The stand-up MRI machine is a choice for overweight patients as well. In a conventional MRI, 350 pounds is the maximum acceptable patient weight, as 375 pounds is the most the machine can lift, Dambroski said.

The stand-up MRI can lift up to 550 pounds, he continued. Because of its open design, overweight patients can also enter the machine sideways.

The machine is also considered to be 50 percent less noisy than a traditional MRI, Dambroski said. The machine’s gradient magnets are partially responsible for generating the click-clack associated with MRI scans, moving back and forth to create a magnetic scan.

“When I go in there, I don’t even need earplugs. I’ve always needed earplugs with other machines,” Dambroski said.

Owned and operated by Health Diagnostics, Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida is accredited by the American College of Radiology and is one of four such Health Diagnostics-owned centers in the state. Health Diagnostics also operates centers in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando.

By Elizabeth Kellar

Daily News Correspondent

If your doctor orders a MRI, you don’t have to take it lying down.

No, really. You don’t.

At Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida, clients are scanned in an open, upright MRI. The technology isn’t new; it was developed and patented a decade ago by FONAR, the company owned by magnetic resonance imaging pioneer Raymond Damadian.

Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida, located at 4521 Executive Drive off Immokalee Road, says it is the first to offer it locally, however.

In a traditional MRI scan, patients are required to recline fully. With stand-up MRIs, the machine can be positioned in a variety of ways, allowing the patient to lean slightly back, all the way or somewhere in between. The stand-up MRI also allows patients to sit, and to have their neck extend forward or backward, depending on the doctor’s orders.

This range of positioning means that the scan can ultimately prove more accurate, explained Michael Dambroski, the center’s site director.

“We can see the changes that happen in the spine when you move from a neutral upright position to a flexion or extension position,” Dambroski said.

For patients who suffer back pain, a stand-up MRI can be especially ideal, he continued.

Back pain patients often lie down to relieve their discomfort. That’s a welcome relief for the sufferer, but since it relaxes the spine, it’s not the best way to reveal where there may be spinal troubles. In a traditional MRI, the patient is reclined.

A stand-up MRI, by contrast, requires a weight-bearing pose and can allow compressions, bulges, herniations and spinal instabilities to appear on the MRI scan.

“Those are areas that can be missed when lying down,” Dambroski said.

North Naples chiropractor James Bergtold refers many of his patients to Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida. He considers a stand-up MRI 20 percent more effective in discovering herniations than a static MRI.

“I’ve had it where I can only pick up the herniation in a flexion or extension view, but not in the static,” Bergtold said.

Bergtold noted that a stand-up MRI is a solution for those patients who don’t like the enclosed space of a traditional MRI. The stand-up MRI is open, and patients walk into the scanning platform. For patients who feel claustrophobic in a conventional MRI scan, a stand-up MRI is an appealing alternative.

“The imaging is just the same, just as good, and you don’t have that claustrophobic feeling,” Bergtold said. “It’s very-user friendly.”

But Dambroski added that stand-up MRIs are not only for back patients or those patients with a fear of tight spaces.

“We can do any body part and our image quality is phenomenal,” he said.

The stand-up MRI machine is a choice for overweight patients as well. In a conventional MRI, 350 pounds is the maximum acceptable patient weight, as 375 pounds is the most the machine can lift, Dambroski said.

The stand-up MRI can lift up to 550 pounds, he continued. Because of its open design, overweight patients can also enter the machine sideways.

The machine is also considered to be 50 percent less noisy than a traditional MRI, Dambroski said. The machine’s gradient magnets are partially responsible for generating the click-clack associated with MRI scans, moving back and forth to create a magnetic scan.

“When I go in there, I don’t even need earplugs. I’ve always needed earplugs with other machines,” Dambroski said.

Owned and operated by Health Diagnostics, Stand-Up MRI of SW Florida is accredited by the American College of Radiology and is one of four such Health Diagnostics-owned centers in the state. Health Diagnostics also operates centers in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando.

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