Tips for Getting an MRI If You're Claustrophobic

Posted on March 9, 2016

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) represented a huge advance in medical imaging technology. With an MRI, your Long Island medical center doctors at PBMC gain the ability to view bones, organs and other tissues with high spatial resolution. This helps in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of conditions. Unfortunately, MRI machines require you to enter an enclosed space. Although some people feel somewhat claustrophobic in an MRI, there are steps you can take to alleviate your discomfort.

What to Expect From an MRI

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The MRI machine takes images with the help of a large, powerful magnet and associated radiofrequency coils. 

tube. Scans typically last from 20 minutes to an hour, although the specific scanning sequences you need depend on what the doctor ordered. Some people find the confined environment of the MRI scanner to be claustrophobic.The machine is shaped like a long tube with a table extending through it. To get accurate images, you must lie on the table as you are slid into the 

Small Modifications Can Make a Big Difference

One of the simplest things to do is to warn your MRI technician that you easily get claustrophobic. This person will work with you to make you as comfortable as possible. This includes explaining the procedure, helping you wear the appropriate clothing (no metal is allowed near the magnet) and covering you with blankets.

Ask about the availability of certain modifications that help claustrophobic people. Some MRI centers provide a small mirror that is placed above your head. This allows you to view what is happening outside the scanner, alleviating the feeling that you are stuck in an enclosed space.

MRI scanning facilities may also have headphones that are MRI safe. You cannot use your own headphones, as they may have metal components. Listening to music can help you relax, lessening feelings of claustrophobia.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques before getting your MRI can make you feel more comfortable on the day of the scan. Use a technique called diaphragmatic breathing to slow your heart rate and stave off panicky feelings. Breathe in slowly, counting to five while your stomach expands with air. Then, slowly breathe out, counting to five again. Repeat until the scan is finished.

As the leading Eastern Long Island hospital, the Grossman Imaging Center at Peconic Bay Medical Center provides MRI scans for thousands of patients each year. We are accustomed to working with claustrophobic patients to help them get the medical care they need in the safest, most comfortable environment possible.

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