Open MRI

At Spine West Boulder Clinic

Open-sided Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) helps reduce claustrophobia and anxiety often associated with MRI testing in more traditional “tunnel-like” machines. MRI is a safe, non-invasive way for physicians to examine the patient’s organs, tissues, and skeletal system. Once captured, MRI images provide information that can improve the diagnosis for the patient. Please read our frequently asked questions below.

IAC Accredited Facility

The Intersocietal Accreditation Commision(IAC) has awarded Spine West accreditation. This award demonstrates an ongoing commitment to providing quality patient care in MRI.

Accreditation by IAC indicates that Spine West has undergone an intensive application process and is found to be in compliance with the published Standards. Comprised of a detailed self-evaluation followed by a thorough review by a panel of medical experts, the IAC accreditation process enable both the critical operational and technical components of the facility to be assessed, including representative case studies and their corresponding final reports.


You will be asked to lie down on a table and the technologist will position you comfortably. The table will be slid sideways into the open magnet. Only the body part being imaged will be in the magnet opening, so the rest of your body will remain outside the magnet. During the scan, you may hear “tapping” and other noises produced from the magnets, so you may wish to wear earplugs, which we will provide.

How to Prepare for the MRI Exam

You can eat, drink, and take regularly prescribed medications prior to the exam. If you will be having a leg exam, you can bring some shorts to wear. Otherwise, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown to avoid any possibility of interference from metal in zippers and fasteners. You will be asked to remove your watch, credit cards, jewelry, keys, pocket knife, hearing aid, or any other metal objects before approaching the MRI. The magnet could affect the items of this type or the items could affect the magnet.

MRI Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of MRIs can you do at Spine West?

  • Spine (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral)
  • Ankle
  • Foot
  • Knee
  • Lower leg/shin
  • Sacroiliac(SI) Joint
  • Shoulder
  • Wrist

I am claustrophobic, is your open-sided MRI a good option for me?

Although our open-sided MRI is a great alternative for those who suffer from claustrophobia, there are simply some instances where it is not enough. For a picture of our MRI machine click here.

We do our very best to make you feel comfortable if you are claustrophobic.

Are there size or weight restrictions for your MRI?

Our open-sided MRI allows for more room than a standard MRI, but you may have trouble fitting if you weigh more than 275lbs. Typically if you are looking for a lumbar spine MRI, if at your widest point, which is usually around your belly button, you measure 47 inches or more in circumference, you may not fit in the MRI coil. For extremity MRIs such as shoulders, knees, and ankles,  sizing is much less of an issue. Please call our staff to discuss if you feel you may not fit in our MRI.

How much does an MRI cost?

Spine West Open-Sided MRI is the best value in Boulder.

Our self-pay rate is $395 for an MRI without contrast which is the most common. If you need an MRI with contrast, our rate is $520. If you choose to self-pay, you cannot submit the claim to your insurance for benefits and payment must be made at the time of service.

We accept most insurances for our MRI. Keep in mind that if you intend on using your insurance benefits, a pre-authorization may be required. The amount that your insurance allows for an MRI performed at Spine West can vary but is typically significantly lower than if you had an MRI at a hospital. If you would like to know the rate your insurance allows, please contact our billing office at 303-494-7773 x111.

What do I need to do during the exam?

Just lie on the exam table and relax. If you are unable to hold still for any reason, please let us know prior to your appointment if possible.

The scan usually takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.