Got MRI phobia? Here’s an expert guide to get through an MRI scan without panicking

Does the very sight of an MRI machine give you the chills? Don’t worry, here’s how you can combat the emotional stress, when going through an MRI scan.
The fear of going inside an MRI machine can be classified as MRI phobia.
The fear of going inside an MRI machine can be classified as MRI phobia.
Updated on Sep 15, 2017 02:38 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

For some of us, going through an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a system that uses radio waves to create pictures of tissues, and organs inside the body) scan can be a nightmarish experience, especially if you are claustrophobic. Being strapped, unable to move, combined with the weird noises and daunting lights — going through an MRI machine can trigger full-blown panic attacks. According to various studies, this phenomenon can be classified as MRI phobia.

We got in touch with experts Dr Poonam Mulley and Dr G. Prem Kumar, radiologists, who list out ways you can combat the psychological and emotional distress when going through the scan.

1) An open MRI: At times, you can ask if the option of an open MRI is available or not. There is more breathing space in an open MRI. It has a shorter tube and is open from all four sides. You won’t feel suffocated either.

2) Familiarise yourself: Do your research and be prepared to ask questions if need be. This will mentally equip you to face the situation with composure and less anxiety. Before the scan, ask the technician to explain everything to you about the procedure.

3) Music therapy- Those annoying loud sounds of the MRI machine are sure to induce stress. This can cause your blood pressure to rise, making you anxious. To avoid this, ask the technician to put on relaxing music for you.

4) Deep breathing and meditation- Deep breathing and meditation can help you relax during an MRI. You can also try the visualisation technique. Close your eyes and think of a happy place for yourself. Apart from calming you, these techniques also distract you.

5) Aromatherapy- Technicians can infuse vanilla or lavender on the pillows. The soothing scent can ease your nerves while being strapped inside the MRI.

6) Ask for support- One person, which could be a family member or a friend, is allowed to be with you during the MRI. It can be a comforting presence and takes your mind off the actual process.

7) Mock trials- You can also go for mock trials before the actual process of getting the scan done. This will acclimatise and help you remain calm. Doing one or two mock trials is essential.

8) Medication- If none of the above help, then ask your doctor to give you anti-anxiety drugs. In special cases, where the patient is extremely claustrophobic, sedation is the only option.

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