MRI Options for Claustrophobia

If the thought of getting an MRI sets off a panic attack, there are strategies to help you get through the test. First, look for a facility that offers an open MRI machine. Then prepare for your appointment and keep calm with some tricks.

Open MRI

Open MRI machines are open on the sides, unlike the traditional tubes. Therefore, many patients with claustrophobia and obesity find them more comfortable. Keep in mind that these machines are not quite as powerful as traditional MRIs. However, they work well for many purposes.

Before the Appointment

Begin your day with a relaxing half-hour of meditation. Eat a healthy breakfast, if your facility instructs that you can eat normally. Skip caffeine-containing beverages. Pack your papers, ID cards, and insurance cards and put them by the door so that you don’t forget them. Choose comfortable clothing, but leave underwire bras and expensive jewelry at home. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the appointment so that you aren’t rushed and frazzled. Leave your schedule open for a few hours after the appointment so that you don’t feel rushed if the facility takes longer than expected.

During the Appointment

Make sure that you give the staff your complete medical history, including any implants, surgeries, and tattoos. You will need to remove glasses, hearing aids, and wigs. If MRI noise annoys you, bring a pair of earplugs to the appointment, or ask if the facility can play your favorite music. Take the time to chat with the technologist. Most technologists work hard to help you feel more comfortable. Accept a blanket if that helps. During the scanning, close your eyes and imagine relaxing scenes. Meditate and keep your breathing even. If you must, ask for anti-anxiety medication from your doctor.

With advance preparation and relaxation strategies, your MRI scan can go smoothly.