Claustrophobic But Need Medical Scans? What Are Your Options?

If you're extremely claustrophobic, you may have made some changes to your daily lifestyle to avoid being enclosed in trapped spaces -- from taking stairs instead of the elevator to avoiding crowded public buses or subways. However, one area where claustrophobic individuals are often left without accommodation involves medical treatment. If you need a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, or other imaging scan that is more in-depth than simple X-rays, you'll often need to be placed in an enclosed machine for several minutes or more. What are your options if you need these diagnostic services but the mere sight of an MRI machine causes you to hyperventilate? Read on to learn more about some technological and medicinal advances that can give you the treatment you need without compromising your mental health. 

Open MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are among the most intimidating diagnostic devices for those battling claustrophobia, as they require you to be completely inserted into a tube and to remain still for the entire scan. You'll be unable to move your arms up to scratch an itch or touch your face, and could be required to lie in the MRI for some time while all the necessary images are gathered.

Fortunately, open-sided MRIs are now becoming more popular. These MRIs provide the same high-quality images as traditional MRIs, but allow freer movement of the arms and legs and should make the experience much more comfortable. You'll also have greater access to fresh air while being scanned in an open MRI, which can make it easier to avoid hyperventilation in an enclosed space. For more information about this new technology, contact an open MRI provider, like Ramic Medical Imaging.


Another option for those who don't have access to an open MRI or who require another type of scan (like a CT scan) is sedation. Although going under general anesthesia for routine diagnostic procedures often isn't a great idea due to the strain it can put on your body, there are lighter forms of anesthesia that can relax you enough to avoid panic or discomfort while you're being scanned. From anti-anxiety medication to "twilight sleep," which can allow you to remain conscious during a procedure without remembering a bit of it, your options are varied. You'll want to discuss the best course of action with your physician so that he or she can take your health, the length of the procedure, your degree of claustrophobia, and any other factors into account when making a recommendation.