Tips for Coping With MRI Fear
MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging – has become common practice today; if you haven’t had an MRI yourself, you certainly know someone who has.
And yet, it seems a little mysterious for a lot of people, and that has led to a fear of the unknown. Additionally, plenty of people have claustrophobia, and an MRI tube is definitely a closed-in space that can trigger a panic attack for people who suffer from the anxiety disorder. That should not be taken lightly. However, for most patients the “MRI Fear” is a fairly mild anxiety that can be overcome without too much difficulty.
First, it’s important to remember that an MRI is totally painless. It might be uncomfortable and noisy, but it doesn’t hurt.
An MRI often requires the patient to lie still on her back inside the tube-like MRI machine for as long as 45 minutes while a repetitive banging noise sounds. So no, it isn’t what most people would call “pleasant.”
But it doesn’t hurt you, and it is an invaluable tool for doctors trying to get to the bottom of a health issue.
So avoiding an MRI that a doctor prescribes is a bad idea. If you’re concerned or even downright afraid of having an MRI, here are some things you should know that might help you cope with your trepidation:
- You can ask questions. One of the best weapons against fear of the unknown is a little knowledge. So don’t be bashful – ask your physician or the staff at the MRI any questions you can think of.
- Know that you’re not closed off from the world. Although a portion of your body will be inside the MRI machine, you’ll notice that it’s open above your head and below your feet. In other words, you aren’t completely closed in. Additionally, you’ll be in communication with the MRI staff, which can speak to you through headphones and are able to see you at all times.
- You can listen to music. Whatever you like; you can even bring your own CD or iPod playlist. They’ll pump it through headphones to you during the procedure.
- Deep breathing really does help you relax. It slows down your heart rate, and when that happens, you feel calmer. If you’re anxious, breathe in and out slowly. And if that isn’t enough…
- You can receive a mild sedative. If your anxiety is running high, talk to your doctor about prescribing a sedative. If you do, make sure you arrange to have someone drive you to and from the appointment.
- The MRI staff is there to help. They want this to go smoothly too, so consider them to be your friendly guide through the procedure.
Remember – knowledge is power, and understanding what will happen during an MRI could make the procedure go more smoothly for many patients.
Crozer-Keystone offers five locations throughout the county where you can get an MRI. To schedule an appointment, call 1-866-5-CK-XRAY (1-866-525-9729) or visit http://ckimaging.crozerkeystone.org.