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CancerLynx - we prowl the net
January 29, 2001

Helpful Ideas for MRI Scans
Jim Carlson, Celeste Daly, Ronald Ginnetty, Teresa Hendricks, Marie Meier, Karolen Paularena, Angela M. Sissions

What might help is to demand that your test be done in an open MRI--they do have them, but often at the larger hospitals. It is pretty common for many people to hate enclosed spaces, and many people are claustrophobic about MRI machines in particular. So don't worry, you are not alone. When/if I have one I intend to ask the doc for IV Valium, and get earplugs or a music tape! And to keep my eyes shut the entire time!
You are NOT alone, no way.
Angela M. Sissions

I'm not the best one for MRI advice, because I've only had one and I'm only claustophobic if I can't get out of somewhere (meaning, caves and small rooms are fine; airplanes are problematic after about 10 hours :-).

What worked for me was taking the technician's advice and using the washcloth she gave me to put over my eyes (I decided, at literally the LAST minute -- she was advancing me in -- that I would open my eyes at some point and perhaps be VERY sorry). Also, as you mentioned, having my husband touch my leg the whole time (he massaged it gently) helped too. It kept me feeling like a whole person. And finally, breathing and visualization exercises kept me calm about what they might find, which kept me from feeling like I'd panic during the test itself.
It was easier than I thought it would be,
- Karolen Paularena

I had no fear of having a MRI because tight spaces do not bother me. I entered the tube with no trepidation. The mistake I made was opening my eyes.

I gasped and the spirit of fear leapt into my mouth, down my throat and landed firmly in the pit of my stomach. I started rapid breathing in an attempt to deal with the presence of this fear. I quickly closed my eyes and began a conversation with this fear. I told it that it was not welcome in my body and had to leave. I was going to force it out the way it came with deep cleansing breaths and visualization. I took a deep breath through my nose and out through my mouth while thinking of a white beach with warm sand and crystal water. The fear was forced out of my stomach after about three breaths into my chest. I felt the wind on my face from the ocean breeze and the fear went to my throat. I tasted the nectar of the fruit drink I visualized drinking and the fear was forced even further up. After about ten minutes, the fear was finally forced out through my mouth again with a sign and the words "do not return." I was fine for the rest of the time.
Lesson learned-do not open your eyes once you enter the tube
Marie Meier

I have claustrophobia so your question is very understandable. Like some others mentioned I was given Valium which relaxed me, but did not make me feel loopy or otherwise affected. Also, for both the MRI and Thalium scan since I was completely enclosed in the scanning equipment (no windows, no way to touch anything outside) I found that simply shutting my eyes worked. I closed my eyes before I was put inside and pretended I was some place else. Maybe sounds childish but it worked for me. Only problem was when the tech spoke to me I automatically opened my eyes (quickly closed them again.) Just thinking about a tight place bothers me but I got through it very well, so I think most anyone could do it with the med and closing their eyes, or meditating as was suggested.
Let us know how it goes.
Teresa Hendricks

A friend stated that it was helpful to have each five minutes noted, she could handle that time frame more than a unknown 45-60 minutes test.
Jim Carlson

I never suffered any fear during MRIs, but the noise can be annoying. I wear two aids and remove them, enabling me to nap a little.

When I have MRIs, I just imagine a 1,000 Irish elves hammering a tin roof with ball peen hammers. The rhythms do get interesting.
Ronald Ginnetty

Of all the tests I've had (CT, MRI, various endoscopy, bone scan, sigmoidoscopy, spinal tap, bone density, etc.), the MRI is one of the easier from my view. I've had about 14 of them or more over the yrs., all in a closed MRI. I find taking 1 mg of lorazepam (generic for ativan) about 30 min before helps me deal w/the claustraphoic aspect & I make sure that my pain meds are in my system, because my back & legs hurt & you have to be totally still except breathing. Also, be sure they put a pillow (or 2 flat ones) under your knees & cover you w/blankets (again, don't hesitate to ask for 2). The rooms have to keep a bit chilly due to the equipment. Ask if they'll be giving you radiological contrast & if so, is it ok to hydrate, i.e. drink fluid! It'll help w/the veins, because they cannot do it thru the port; too viscus, so tell them where the good veins are, just be sure to go potty first If any one has specific questions, glad to answer
Celeste Daly

First Appeared
January 29, 2001

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