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A Bigger, Better MRI

Published
March 1, 2012
Publication
Bottom Line Health
Source
James Borgstede, MD
Print
673

It’s true that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can reveal tumors and other abnormalities with tremendous clarity, often at a very early stage. However, up to 30% of people who undergo MRIs experience some degree of anxiety and/or claustrophobia.

If you or a loved one needs an MRI but is anxious about the procedure, ask whether the imaging center has a large-bore machine. These machines, which produce high-quality images, can be used to diagnose abnormalities in many parts of the body and have extra-large (more than two feet across) openings, which help patients with anxiety/claustrophobia feel less confined. The machines can also more easily accommodate obese individuals.

Other options…


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  • Open-field MRIs are more spacious than traditional, tube-like models. However, the image quality isn’t as good and, as a result, may not be acceptable for all purposes.
  • Prism glasses, available at most centers, allow you to see out the opening and watch a movie while lying on your back in a traditional machine. This is also useful for those who are claustrophobic .

Also helpful: Tell your doctor when scheduling your test if confined spaces make you nervous. That way, sedation can be used to ease your discomfort.