Claustrophobia is defined as "a fear of being in a confined
or enclosed place". We strongly believe that by understanding
the MRI procedure, many "claustrophobic" patients realize
their fears can be minimized.
Many can complete the study
without any type of medication to help them relax. Most importantly,
keep in mind that the area on which you are lying is not enclosed
at any time.
It is, however, somewhat confining, so if you are very nervous,
we do have alternatives available. First we will thoroughly
explain the procedure, and then discuss alternatives for helping
you relax. We've developed a program that combines counseling,
education, and therapeutic techniques. Oftentimes a person
battling claustrophobia is able to comfortably complete the
study and get the quality diagnosis they need without the
assistance of pre-medication.
After you arrive at the center you will sign consent forms.
We will copy insurance cards and collect any outside images
you may have brought with you. Then the technologist will
explain the procedure to you. You will be asked to remove
anything metallic (jewelry, eyeglasses, watches, etc.) and
change into a hospital gown if your clothing has metal zippers,
snaps, hooks, etc. Your personal belongings will be stored
in a secure locker during your scan. The technologist will
then accompany you to the scanning room and help you get situated
on the table. During the scan, you will lie on the padded
table on your back with a cushion under your knees. The cushion
helps take the pressure off your lower back and allows you
to be more comfortable. You will also be offered earplugs
or earphones to listen to music during the scan. You can choose
from a variety of CDs, which we have here, a digital music channel, or bring your own
The table then lifts up and slides into a tube-like cylinder that is flared,
wider on both ends. It NEVER closes. It is open the whole
time on both ends. There is a fan and a light inside. You
typically go in headfirst with your head near one opening.
If you look above, you can
clearly see out one end. If you look down towards your feet,
you will easily see out the other end. More than likely the
lower part of your body is out of the scanner altogether.
Alternatively, if we perform an MRI of your foot, knee, or
leg, you would go in feet first and your head is outside the
scanner. Most often, however, the best imaging is obtained
by going in headfirst. Either way, the technologist will be
able to see you throughout the entire scan and will talk with
you over the headphone/intercom system. Although it is important
that you are able to lie still for about 30-45 minutes, the
scan is actually divided into numerous sessions ranging from
one minute to 6-8 minutes in length. In between these sessions,
it is okay to move about a little bit while remaining in the
same position on the table. During the picture taking, you
will hear a repetitive knocking noise. Nothing moves or touches
you and you will not feel any discomfort-it's just noisy.
The headset with music helps muffle this. The technologist
will talk to you over the headset intercom and let you know
when they will start each group of pictures and how long they
will last. Ask the technician to adjust the volume of the
earphones if needed. Basically, when you hear the noise, lay
as still as you can so the technologist can get very clear
images for the doctor to read. Motion during this time will
blur the images. When it is quiet between pictures, you will
need to remain in the same position on the table, but it is
okay to stretch or move your arms or legs until the next sequence
begins. Again, the technologist will tell you before they
start each set of pictures.
Sometimes, patients are nervous about the MRI or uncomfortable
with the thought of being on their back for that amount of
time. We do have several options available to you.
The first and easiest is that many patients find it relaxing to simply
have a cool washcloth over their forehead or eyes during the
procedure. Thus, they can lie back and relax. Believe it or
not, some people even fall asleep due to the repetitive hypnotic
If you feel it might be helpful,
you may ask to bring a family member or friend into the scanning
room with you. Many people feel it comforting just knowing
someone else is right there at their side.
Some patients would like a mild sedative prior to their study. Your doctor can send a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice to pick up. The sedation should be taken approximately one hour prior to your study in order for it to be effective at the time of the scan. You should also have someone drive you home as the side effects differ per person.
Some patients ask, "If I am unable to complete my scan without sedation, can I then take the sedation and try again?" Unfortunately, that is not an option as it takes about an hour for the sedation to take effect and there may be patients scheduled after you.
Another option may be our HIGH-FIELD OPEN scanner at
our Lombardi location.
It enables us to obtain high-resolution MR images for virtually any patient, including children and those who are claustrophobic or obese. Click here for more information on our open scanner.
Your doctor and
our schedulers will help you determine which scanner is the
best for you. The most important thing to keep in mind is
that we are here to help you understand and comfortably complete
your procedure. We are there with you the whole time during
the scan. The technologist can see you and talk to you throughout
the scan. You can be taken out of the scanner at any point
if you feel you cannot continue. Just be sure to communicate
your concerns to the pre-registration secretary when you call
to go through the screening questions and also with the technologist
at the time of your scan. We want your MR scanning procedure
to be a comfortable, pleasant experience and we're here to
make that happen.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please call
(800) 353-4674 and ask for
pre-registration. Alternatively, you may dial (920) 431-7124
and press extension #3 for pre-registration. One of our pre-registration
specialists will take the time to address all of your concerns.