The most important thing while undergoing an MRI scan is to lie still and relax. But for patients who feel uncomfortable in confined spaces, the procedure can lead to some tense and anxious moments. At Houston MRI®, we rarely experience this problem as our advanced MRI machines have a more advanced ‘open’ design and the time in the MRI machine is usually about 20 minutes. However, if you belong to the 5% of Americans who have claustrophobia, here are some tips to alleviate anxiety when you are in an MRI:
- Discuss your concerns with your referring doctor: Your doctor may be able to provide you with practical solutions that may work specifically to alleviate your anxiety symptoms.
- Understand the procedure: Ask your referring doctor or technologist questions about the procedure. The more you become familiar with the machine and how it works, the less anxious you will be.
- Feet First: Depending on what body part is being examined you can go in feet first and your head won’t even go into the MRI machine!! This is true for all exams of your legs (feet, ankles, knees), your pelvis and hips and even your low back. This is a great tip many hospitals won’t tell you about.
- Close your eyes: You are less likely to feel confined if you keep your eyes closed or cover your face with a towel. With your mind’s eye visualize a happy place or memory that you can go to during the procedure. Don’t worry, our technologist and staff are CONSTANTLY watching and monitoring you while you’re a in the MRI.
- Be aware of your breathing: This is a well-known form of meditation that can help you stay calm and relaxed.
- Bring a friend or family member with you: Knowing someone you trust is close by can help you let go of feelings of anxiety. If your companion passes a simple screening exam, they too can be allowed in the room to be with you while you are having the exam done. This is a very helpful!
- Counting numbers or listening to music: Counting slowly or listening to a soothing melody can help distract you and make the time pass quickly while you are in the scanner.
- Talk to the Technician: In most instances, you can speak to the technician throughout most of the procedure. Talking to someone who can give you updates about how long the procedure will take can help keep you calm.
- Consider sedation options: If you are prone to panic attacks in closed places and feel the above options may not be beneficial to you, mild sedation that will not put you to sleep, but allows you to remain calm and relaxed during the MRI procedure may be the right choice for you.
Our mission at Houston MRI® & Diagnostic Imaging is to provide the patients and physicians with affordable medical diagnostic imaging in a warm and patient friendly environment. It is our goal to make the medical imaging procedure as pleasant as possible. Our promise to our communities is "hospital quality imaging without the hospital costs" with efficient service to both our patients and physicians.