Tips getting through an MRI?

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2004
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   Posted 5/17/2007 9:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Well I decided that I do need the MRI no matter what it is going to cost, I will deal with that part later. 
I was really frightened when the doctor told me that he was ordering me an MRI because I immediately remembered how I felt last time.  I am very claustrophobic (which I didn't know prior to the last MRI) and I barely made it through the test.  I had tears rolling down the whole time and eventually I told them to let me out, luckily they got all the images they needed of my spine.
I shared my fear about this brain MRI that I need now with my friends and they all told me to get an open MRI.  I called the hospital and they did in fact have an open MRI machine.  I went ahead and made my appt. and called my doc's office.  The nurse said that I had to call back and cancel because the images they need requires a regular MRI sad
Now I'm freaking out.  I know that I can choose to take a sedative but does that really work when you know the feeling of what its like in there?  I have picked up the phone several times to make the appt. only to put the phone down again before completely dialing the number.  I am just sick right now about this whole thing.  I know this probably sounds silly but its so real to me.  Has anyone had the sedative and does it really help you through it?  I'm wondering if the sedative will have any effect since I'm on Klonopin for anxiety. 
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   Posted 5/17/2007 9:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Des, I'm really sorry you can't have the open MRI - I have heard they are so much better. I haven't had an MRI in years, but remember not liking that closed in feeling either. I have heard from others that the sedative does help and you coud talk to them about what might work best for you with the meds you are on.

I feel for you and it stinks that we have to go through so many uncomfortable and scary things. I'm really hoping that the people who do the MRI can help to put your mind at ease and that they can use a sedative that will relax you so you don't end up with another really bad experience.

Let us know what you decide and what they think they can do to help you through it.

Hang in there and take care.
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Date Joined Mar 2006
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   Posted 5/17/2007 10:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Des, during my first MRI I was given IV valium, and as a result I didn't care where I was. During my second one I took two valium pills - 30 minutes apart, and it was pretty uncomfortable. But I did make it through. I'm very claustrophobic. Ask your doctor about the IV valium. Actually, I think it was the tech who chose to give it to me when I told them how clalustrophobic I was.
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Date Joined Dec 2006
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   Posted 5/17/2007 10:21 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi hun sorry you have such a hard time with this. I've had them done and as much as I didn't like holding still that long I really didn't suffer from being closed in. Maybe if you take a couple klonipin before you go? or when you call to make the appt: talk to the tech tell them about your concerns. Tell them you are extremely clotraphobic and you need to know what options are available to you. Trust me they don't want you freaking out any more than you want to.


let us know what they say

love ya


God Bless
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Come ye, all that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!

Veteran Member

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   Posted 5/17/2007 1:40 PM (GMT -6)   
If you had the full spine done before, that takes MUCH longer than the brain MRI. The brain one I just had was about 20 minutes for without contrast and same for the with contrast. It wasn't one continuous period of holding still -- it was several shorter periods where you could move a little and breathe more deeply in between. I think the longest period was about 3 minutes.

Interestingly enough, the first one I had (a couple of years ago) seemed much worse than the one I just had. I was dreading this more recent one but then it went by like a breeze.

I have only slight claustrophobia, so haven't had to do the sedative or anti-anxiety route. My only suggestion would be to make sure you get this part set up before hand -- it may take a little while for a drug to kick in, and you want to be fully chilled out before the test starts.

Let us know when you get it scheduled, we'll all send calming energy your direction

Lynnwood, Co-Moderator: Lupus Forum
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Date Joined Jan 2004
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   Posted 5/17/2007 2:08 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks hippi, Pat, Carol, and Lynn

I'm going to have to do it one way or another I know. I am definitely going to go the sedative route and make sure that I am pretty relaxed before I even look at that machine again. I'm hoping that it won't be so bad with it but all I know is I'm remembering how it was the last time and I think that's probably whats getting to me. I'm just gonna have to suck it up and do it.

Thanks Lynn for letting me know that it will be a shorter time in there. For some reason I was thinking that with and without contrast would make it much longer but 20 minutes for each might not be so bad.

At least I know that I have the option to deny the test if I don't think the sedative is doing its job but I will go in with hope that I can go through it. Gosh, I'm such a baby!! lol
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Date Joined Dec 2006
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   Posted 5/17/2007 4:59 PM (GMT -6)   


I'm with you on the claustrophobia.  When you call to make the appointment, may I suggest you make the appointment and find out if maybe you can talk to one of the Radiologists and they can give you all the details as to length of time in the machine, sedative/interactions to sedative, etc.  I did that the last time I had a brain MRI back in January.  I went with a sedative.  I actually think they gave me something called Versed (and let me tell you I didn't know they put me in the machine, I don't remember being in it and I don't remember coming out).  I fell asleep almost immediately upon the IV injection and woke up a happy camper not remembering anything.  There are things that can be done to alleviate the fears of claustrophobia.  Good luck and let us know how it goes.


Diane (ocean1)
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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 5/17/2007 9:16 PM (GMT -6)   
my secret to mri"s .i always wear a sleep mask.the ones you get from the drug store.they help me get through them i hope this helps you.good luck

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 2446
   Posted 5/17/2007 11:00 PM (GMT -6)   
I had an MRI done 4 months ago. I am the biggest chicken on this planet and maybe other planets too ;-)
I psyched myself up so much, and when it was all over, I was like "is that it"!
The ppl doing MRI"s know how freaked ppl are doing them. They are equipped for us turkeys. You have a panic button and can push it when you want.
The trick to get over it, well this worked for me, I closed my eyes the entire time and thought about how I would love to win the lottery and how exactly I would go to work and tell me boss. Oh there were so many ways that conversation would go, so that kept my mind busy for the whole 30 mins....haha!
Seriously, close your eyes and think of something totally ridiculous!
I did not take a sedative, cause I went alone and they would not let me drive home after. So I braved it out.
Good will do GREAT!


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2004
Total Posts : 4151
   Posted 5/18/2007 7:45 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks guys... I will take all of your suggestions. This is just what I needed, coping strategies. You guys are the best!! :-)
Co-Moderator ~ IBS Forum
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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 41
   Posted 5/19/2007 7:21 PM (GMT -6)   
My first MRI was up there with the Spanish Inquisition, but several years ago, I had so many CT scans and MRIs for a potential breast tumor (it wasn't), I had to figure out how to cope.

For me, I literally go to my "happy place" (and everyone who knows me is shocked to see me in that sort of zen state, because I'm so Type A), bring my own ear plugs (very high decible), do a lot of slow deep breathing (when I'm allowed to breath), and usually just take a nap for the sometimes up to 60 minutes that I've been in there. I never open my eyes in the machine, because then I do get really claustrophobic. I keep my eyes closed going in and coming out. Then it's all about deep relaxation for me while they go about it, and I nearly always fall asleep (which shocks the techs). And I always ask the techs to allow me time to get myself very comfortable before they start putting me in the machine (which usually takes just 5 minutes or so). I've approached complete panic a few times when they were trying to force me in too quickly without allowing me to get settled -- I'm nearly 6' tall and hardly skinny, so my panic also has to do with tight fit, which is why I need that five minutes to get my arms and elbows in close, but relaxed.

Most techs have NO interest in their patient being miserable or having a panic attack. I've found that most (I did have one bad experience) are completely open to you preparing yourself however you need it. If you have a jerk tech, ask him to stop and ask for the lead tech or supervisor so you can get another tech or get scheduled with another tech -- very few hospitals are interested in bad patient ratings or scores. The latter is easier if you're in a town or at a facility with multiple MRI centers -- it might not be that feasible with one machine and only tech that's available.

I hope this helps you -- it hasn't helped my poor mom with her MRI's (she just can't relax herself), but has helped several friends and my Dad with their MRI's.

Good luck!


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