One of the biggest concerns for patients undergoing an MRI is claustrophobia. Whether or not you suffer from claustrophobia on a daily basis, scan anxiety can occur and make MRI's more stressful process. Fortunately, at Northeast Nebraska Imaging we specialize in Open MRI technology which offers more room for claustrophobic patients. If you are still concerned about your MRI, here are a few more tips that will ease your claustrophobia.
1) Consider drug therapy
This is only appropriate for extreme circumstances where a patient believes that their claustrophobia will legitimately keep them from completing an MRI procedure. Drugs should be temporary, used only for the procedure, prescribed by a doctor and also approved by the facility doing the MRI.
2) Think about herbal remedies
There are a lot of natural herbal medicines that help ease the anxiety caused by claustrophobia. Two of the most effective herbs are passionflower and kava. These can be taken as tablets or capsules, or used in teas and tinctures as well.
3) Use various relaxation techniques
If you start to panic, breathe in through your nose for ten seconds and then exhale through your mouth for ten more seconds. Continue the pattern to help slow your heart rate. Try to think about happy or relaxing things while you’re in the MRI machine as well. Our centers also allow you to listen to music during your procedure, which is a great distraction for patients and can help keep them feeling calm and relaxed.
4) Have a friend in the room
If you’re feeling nervous, it always helps to have someone in the room with you. Our technologists are always available to sit with patients during their procedures, to hold their hands, or even just to keep up the conversation with them during the procedure.
5) Find an alternative machine
If you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s highly recommended that you have your MRI procedure at a facility that has open MRI machines. Rather than placing your head inside a small tube, open MRI machines provide much more space for patients. You can see the difference in the images below. The first one is a traditional closed MRI machine, the second is an open MRI machine.
We hope these tips will help make your MRI experience a breeze. Simply by relaxing and utilizing Open MRI technology, you can overcome your MRI claustrophobia. Reach out to one of our radiology techs before your exam if you are concerned. Our staff will do our best to ensure you're comfortable during your scan.