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Weight-Bearing MRI

Innovations in medical technology have long allowed physicians to gain a more accurate look inside the human body with the CT scan, X-ray, and MRI, but the revelatory innovation of weight-bearing MRIs, as opposed to traditional MRIs, has significantly improved patient experience during scans. An MRI is used to examine soft tissue, joints, and organs inside the body by providing detailed images of any pathologies, tumors, and anomalies that may be present. These scans are an invaluable resource for diagnosing illness and disease.


The weight-bearing MRI, or upright MRI, was developed in 1996 and has greatly improved upon the design and functionality of traditional, or supine, MRIs. While supine MRIs that require patients to lie down in a horizontal position to be slid into the enclosed scanner were shown to cause claustrophobia in 30% of people, weight-bearing MRI’s allow a patient to simply stand or sit between two magnetic imaging devices. In a sitting position, the machine can tilt you at any angle necessary to achieve the most accurate read. Weight-bearing MRIs also allow an open view into the rest of the room, so anxieties about potential claustrophobia are alleviated. However, these innovative machines can only be found in select hospitals and treatment centers. Fortunately, Longhorn Imaging houses the only weight-bearing MRI in central Texas.

If you are unsure whether a traditional MRI scan or weight-bearing MRI scan would be best for you, contact Longhorn Imaging at (512) 444-8900 to speak to a member of our team. We can answer any questions you may have about the weight-bearing MRI and tell you what to expect during your visit.

Advantages of a Weight-Bearing MRI

Scans from a weight-bearing MRI can give a clearer diagnostic read than a traditional MRI, as it allows the opportunity to recreate bodily positions that normally induce pain in a patient, making it easier to determine the cause of discomfort. This can provide visibility into anomalies that might go undetected in a lie-down position. The upright machine more accurately depicts the body in weight-bearing states, providing a more realistic view of the body when gravity is imposed on it. This is particularly useful when examining the spine and joints, as pain in these areas usually crop up in positions where weight is imposed. This means you can now be scanned in positions where your symptoms are most likely to arise. Weight-bearing MRIs provide the following benefits over a traditional MRI scan:

  • Improved patient experience (not subjected to an enclosed space)
  • More accurate images from a weight-bearing state
  • Inclusivity (may be used by patients who are obese or claustrophobic)
  • Typically faster than a traditional MRI
  • Manipulation of body position (may tilt you in any angle necessary)

However, the magnets in traditional MRIs usually have a higher field of strength than a weight-bearing MRI, so they may provide more detailed images of your scan. Additionally, your condition might be better suited to being scanned in a horizontal position, in which case a traditional MRI may serve you more effectively. As always, it is best to consult with a medical provider or licensed radiologist when determining the most effective course of action for your condition.

Contact a Diagnostic Imaging Center

If you or someone you know has an issue that requires a bodily scan, contact Longhorn Imaging at (512) 444-8900 to schedule a consultation. Our compassionate team can answer any questions you may have and will work to make sure the process is as quick and comfortable for you as possible.