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I have to have a MRI and I am EXTREMELY claustropobic


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#1 MJN

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 08:59 PM

The dr. wants to do an MRI to figure out why my L5 looks "odd". (And no, I'm not doing any searching the web to figure it out on my own, kwim?) He's given me some Valium. I have to have it done with contrast. Is there any reason I should be concerned about the dye going through me? This is all new to me. Also, any tips for surviving the MRI are appreciated. :001_smile:

#2 Brindee

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:03 PM

I would have to have something that knocked me out to be able to survive an MRI! Can they give you something that will do that? Does Valium knock you out? I could NOT be awake!

#3 Zelda

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:27 PM

The dr. wants to do an MRI to figure out why my L5 looks "odd". (And no, I'm not doing any searching the web to figure it out on my own, kwim?) He's given me some Valium. I have to have it done with contrast. Is there any reason I should be concerned about the dye going through me? This is all new to me. Also, any tips for surviving the MRI are appreciated. :001_smile:


Its not as bad as the anticipation of it. They blow cool air on your face so you don't FEEL contained as long as you keep your eyes closed. This is key. If they offer you a blind, go for it.

Things to know. Its LOUD. Almost hilariously loud. Like Star Wars. I was thinking, "Great. The Death Star is attacking and I'm stuck in the MRI machine."

The contrast made me very warm and made my tongue and lips tingle for an instant. Then it went away. It happened twice so I know it wasn't just a fluke. But, there are different kinds of contrast.

All in all, very tolerable. Good luck. :grouphug:

#4 Crissy

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:31 PM

I have L5-S1 issues for which I had an MRI last spring. I, too, am extremely claustrophobic. I won't say it was a piece of cake, but with valium, a dark sleep mask, music and a stream of cool air gently blowing in my face, it was...well, I did it.

Be aware that the machine is loud. I kept trying to imagine different scenes and scenarios (wide open fields and such), but the noise made that a little difficult.

Do keep your arms close to your body and keep the mask on. Don't peek. It is much easier to deny where you are if you don't catch a glimpse of your surroundings or feel the machine against your arm.

Don't be afraid to tell your doctor that you will have a driver and you'd like it if he didn't skimp on the valium. :D

:grouphug:

#5 Crissy

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:32 PM

I was thinking, "Great. The Death Star is attacking and I'm stuck in the MRI machine."



:lol:

#6 newlifemom

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:32 PM

The best advice I received for my MRI was "keep your eyes closed no matter what and bring music and headphones they played my cd for me over their system to help distract from the overwhelmingly loud noise. It really is loud. If I can do it w/o drugs at 7 mos pregnant, anyone can.

#7 elizabeth

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:53 PM

Nearly every big to medium city has an open MRI imaging center due to this very common reaction. I am also claustrophobic it was a piece of cake with an open mri it is still earth shatteringly loud and Zelda's comparison to Star Wars is spot on!!!Seriously ask for valium or open MRI . A nifty trick I use when having one of these(4 bad discs , torn rotator cuff I am the queen of MRI machines) is to look at a really complicated picture of a room for 10 minutes or so before and while the clanging , moving obnoxious sounds are going on I close my eyes , generate the picture I have examined studiously minutes before and remove one item at a time until the room is empty-MRI over.Good mental trick for any anxiety producing situation. I hope the MRI gives some valuable information many times they will see a bulge but not anything that should cause symptoms so the result can be inconclusive. Open MRI or meds-settle for nothing less.

#8 King Alfred Academy

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:22 PM

Nearly every big to medium city has an open MRI imaging center due to this very common reaction. I am also claustrophobic it was a piece of cake with an open mri it is still earth shatteringly loud and Zelda's comparison to Star Wars is spot on!!!


I have had to have several MRI's stopped due to panic attacks from me not liking enclosed spaces. I tried the open MRI...think hamburger bun...and it was alright. Still a little hard, but the loud music they played, keeping my head turned so I could see open spaces, helped a lot.

#9 Starr

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:28 PM

I found it helpful when they talked to me, told me how long each sections would take, and kept me posted. Yes, keep those eyes closed! You'll make it. They can hear you. If you need more valium, ask!

#10 Blessedfamily

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:36 PM

I had a great, big, football player next door neighbor who was terribly afraid of the same thing. Dh and I drove him to get his MRI, and they put him to sleep. I guess they didn't want that big guy having a panic attack on them.

Don't open your eyes.

#11 catalinakel

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:45 PM

My eleven year old daughter had to have one last summer. she has issues with light and sound...but she got through it like a champ while listening to Christian music on an ipod we brought. It was harder for me watching and listening to the loud sounds than it was for her. Many were praying....the anxiety ahead of time can be much worse, me thinks. So pray and try not to worry....

#12 Rebel

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:51 PM

They let my dh stand next to the machine rubbing my legs and talking to me constantly. That, plus two valium got me through it.

#13 dwkilburn1

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:57 PM

Do you have the option of an open MRI? Those are much easier to get through, but still keep your eyes closed.

#14 HappyGrace

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 11:06 PM

I was never claustrophobic til I had to have a closed MRI! (Same issue-L5 S1) The next time I did the open and it was like night and day. TRY hard to get this if you can. If not, you can have them put a cloth over your eyes so you're not tempted to look around. That plus meditative breathing helps. I also tried to focus on imagining in my mind how huge the universe God made is-the nebulae, etc.

#15 KidsHappen

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 11:10 PM

I was going to recommend Valium but I see that the dr. already gave you some. Make sure you have a driver and then use liberally. I found the procedure I had to check my gall bladder much worse as far as clautrophobia is concerned and it lasted an hour. I remember the MRI taking much less time. However, the noise combined with the confined space is simply too much to comtemplate without help. Good luck.

#16 G5052

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 11:38 PM

A good friend of mine always has them put her out. They use something similar to what is used in sedation dentistry, and she never remembers a thing. We don't have an open MRI close by, so this is the only workable option for her.

My poor DH has had about 20 or so with contrast since we've been married, maybe more. They've never bothered him at all. Our hospital lets you pick music from a huge list of styles, and sometimes he doesn't even bother. I had Christmas music when I had an MRI of my ankle done in December. :D

Everyone is truly different, but if you're uneasy now, it's best to tell them BEFORE the procedure.

Edited by GVA, 07 January 2009 - 11:43 PM.


#17 Jeanne in MN

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 03:02 AM

First time, I was kind of out of it for health reasons already, so it went ok. They played the kind of music I wanted in the machine and the guy talked me through it. He told me how long each step was going to take as we went along, so I could count on that. I had my eyes covered and a sheet over me, which helped to feel secure, cozy and not know where I was. I remember at one time, I wiggled my fingers and my fingers hit the top of the inside of the machine!! Up until that moment I hadn't an idea it was quite that enclosed. But I did it.

The second time I did it, I didn't request valium because I figured I'd done it once, I can do it again. No big deal. NOT. This time just looking at the machine made me wonder how I did it the first time. I got in the machine and I felt really warm and I weigh more now than I did then and I could feel my arms touching the sides of the machine-freaked me out. I had them haul me back out. I tried it with my eyes uncovered and no sheet. Nope. I panicked. I had to give it up that day.

The lady told me that there was an open MRI in town too. My doctor tracked that one down and got me an appt. there. Just looking at pictures of open MRI machines that I'd found on-line made me feel better. This time dh drove me there, I had taken some valium (not enough to do me any good mind you-not enough for my weight??). They slid me in the hamburger bun machine and even though it was a bit stressful, I made it through. I couldn't turn my head at all, but I could see the light from the windows and that helped. They played music on a cd player at this place, but I couldn't hear a blasted bit of music when the machine was running so loudly! Lot of good it did! LOL!

I had to have the dye too. No problem whatsoever.

Do everything you can to make it easy for you and best of luck. Keep your mind on other things to distract you like others have said.

#18 Quiver0f10

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 07:51 AM

The last MRI I had they allowed my Dh to come in with me. He sat by my head and kept his hand on me so I knew I wasn't alone. It helped a lot.

#19 farmgirlinwv

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:09 AM

I didn't read all the other posts, but....My mom is claustaphobic and my dad is very large. They both use the open MRI facilities where they live and it's MUCH better. Ask about it w/ your doc. It is expensive though.

#20 LNC

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 08:17 AM

I have to have an MRI every year (or more often when I have a new attack) that last at least 2 hours - to follow MS. I have my brain, cervical and complete spine done. One local hospital had headphones which helped tremendously. I have to go to a teaching hospital's MS center now and they don't offer that. I just pray pray pray pray. I usually get more used to it about an hour into it. Maybe they can give you something to relax/sleep? I can't bc my muscles are too weak, I might have trouble breathing. Let us know the date and I'll pray for you!!

#21 Texas T

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 10:11 AM

MJN, I don't have much to add other than my own claustrophobia leads me to desire to pray for you. I watched an MRI on tv the other day, and I nearly had an anxiety attack just thinking about it. ;) It's odd another claustrophobic would now be having to face it. I will pray for you, definitely. I am now!

#22 jonesloonybin

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:05 PM

I just had one a couple of months ago. They gave me the Valium (didn't help) and I had the contrast. The worst part was mid way thru the test I could feel this wetness spreading from my IV site. It soaked my whole side and I thought it was blood, so I started panicking and was yelling that something was coming out of my IV and that I wanted out. This really kicked in my claustrophobia too and I was SCREAMING....they left me in there for about 5 min while I was in tears and screaming. When they finally pulled me out they said "oh sorry but I was almost done anyways with that segment" Then they went on to tell me that the wetness was the contrast...that "sometimes it leaks out like that" "Sorry we must have forgot to mention that". I was so pissed! I just walked out and got dressed then went into the waiting room to find my dh and proceeded to tell him what happened..and then noticed a lady sitting there and they called her name and she did not want to go so the staff asked us to leave...that I was scaring the patients. I will NEVER go back to that hospital or do another MRI unless it is an open one.

#23 Tracey in TX

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:12 PM

It's a guilt-free nap! I slept like a baby through the whole experience--had to be woken up when it was finished. I remember it being loud, but sort of calming because it reminded me of sleeping in a bunkbed. Bring a sleeping mask and enjoy the sleep--or have a book to ponder in your brain, listen to NPR, etc.
Seriously, we're so busy that we could indulge in any moment to rest. :)
Good luck.

#24 LNC

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 01:30 PM

Maybe you could just call your dr. about the open mri and/or sedative. It really depends on what your issue is and where the dr. wants the test done/read.

Edited by LNC, 08 January 2009 - 04:24 PM.


#25 angela in ohio

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:05 PM

Its not as bad as the anticipation of it. They blow cool air on your face so you don't FEEL contained as long as you keep your eyes closed. This is key. If they offer you a blind, go for it.

Things to know. Its LOUD. Almost hilariously loud. Like Star Wars. I was thinking, "Great. The Death Star is attacking and I'm stuck in the MRI machine."

The contrast made me very warm and made my tongue and lips tingle for an instant. Then it went away. It happened twice so I know it wasn't just a fluke. But, there are different kinds of contrast.

All in all, very tolerable. Good luck. :grouphug:


That's pretty much my experience as well. The contrast's warmness makes you feel like you wet yourself sometimes... umm... I hear. ;) So don't panic about that. I just looked at it as an excuse to lay still for awhile. How often does that happen? I'm super-claustrophobic - even elevators and boats make me crazy - and I did okay.

#26 NayfiesMama

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:06 PM

DO you have an open MRI place available? I think that there is such a thing....
Carrie:-)

#27 Parrothead

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:18 PM

I'd use it as a time for a nap.


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