Tips for Managing Claustrophobia During an MRI

Tips for Managing Claustrophobia During an MRI

**From the Desk of John Rourke – March 11th, 2024**

Hello and welcome back to another blog post from yours truly. Today, I wanted to share a personal experience that I recently had with an MRI. As some of you may know, I suffer from claustrophobia, which makes undergoing a regular MRI a daunting task. However, I recently heard about the availability of open MRI machines, which are designed to alleviate the anxiety and fear caused by closed spaces. Excited about this option, I decided to give it a try.

So, I traveled a couple of hours south to a facility that offered the open MRI. I was hopeful that this experience would be much more comfortable for me. However, upon entering the machine, I quickly realized that the top of the device was mere inches from the tip of my nose and not much different than a traditional MRI. Needless to say, I was disappointed and felt deceived.

After discussing my concerns with the technologist, they informed me that this particular machine was considered an “open MRI” but had a slightly different design compared to the traditional ones. While it wasn’t the ideal open space I had hoped for, it still had some advantages over a closed MRI. The technologist assured me that they would do their best to make me feel as comfortable as possible.

Throughout the process, the technologist made a few helpful suggestions that significantly improved my experience and might benefit others who have claustrophobia or anxiety during an MRI. Here are a few tips and tricks that could make your next MRI more manageable:

1. Communicate your concerns: Don’t hesitate to speak up about your claustrophobia or anxiety to the staff. They are there to help you have a comfortable experience, and they may be able to provide additional options or support.

2. Ask for breaks: If you feel overwhelmed or claustrophobic during the procedure, don’t be afraid to ask for a break. Most facilities will allow short breaks to help you relax and gather yourself.

3. Choose the right machine: While an open MRI may not always offer a completely open space, it can still be a less confining option for those with claustrophobia. However, be sure to clarify with the facility about the design of their open MRI machine so there are no surprises.

4. Distractions: Many facilities offer various ways to distract yourself during the MRI, such as listening to music, audiobooks, or watching a movie. These distractions can help take your mind off the procedure and reduce anxiety.

5. Practice relaxation techniques: Before your MRI, practice deep breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques that work for you. These techniques can help calm your mind and body before and during the procedure.

6. Sedation options: In some cases, if the anxiety is severe, your doctor may recommend sedation to help you relax during the MRI. Speak with your healthcare provider to determine if this is an option for you.

Remember, an MRI is a crucial diagnostic tool that can provide important information about your health. It’s vital to find ways to make the process more manageable so you can receive the best possible care. Don’t let your fear or anxiety prevent you from getting the medical attention you need.

**My 2 Cents**

I understand the struggle of facing claustrophobia and undergoing an MRI. It can be a challenging and intimidating experience. While an open MRI may not be as spacious as expected, it still offers some advantages over a closed MRI. Remember to communicate your concerns, ask for breaks when needed, and take advantage of distractions and relaxation techniques to ease anxiety. Ultimately, your comfort and well-being are the top priority, so don’t hesitate to speak up and explore additional options. Stay strong and take care of yourself.