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Claustrophobia with MRI


Specializes in research. Has 1 years experience.

I'm hoping to get some help here. I'm 54, an airline pilot, and a former clinical pharmacist (who has received great answers here)..I was NEVER claustrophobic; I spent many happy years in the confines of a fighter cockpit and actually felt safe in confined spaces. 30 years and 2 wars later, I freaked out like a lunitic during a recent attempt at a spinal MRI; needs to be the closed type...I'm 5'10. 160 and in great health......I totally freaked out and could not do the test..triedthe wet towel over my face, 3 martinis beforehand and it only got worse. any suggestions? I feel like an idiot,,,,,,,,,,

PostOpPrincess, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, MICU, CVICU, SICU, ER, Trauma, NICU. Has 19 years experience.

Most people who cannot take an MRI in this situation request General Anesthesia or Moderate Sedation under the care of an anesthesia provider.

You should ask your doctor.

blondy2061h, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology. Has 15 years experience.

That's why God invented benzodiazepenes.

HeartsOpenWide, RN

Specializes in Ante-Intra-Postpartum, Post Gyne.

Ask for an Rx of Ativan.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

And....bring a blackout mask to wear during the procedure. It was the only way I was able to get through mine, along with a milligram of Vitamin "A" about an hour beforehand.

Valium took care of it for me, but mine was not an issue of being afraid, it was an issue of being able to be still. I constantly move, a fact I didn't realize until they wanted me to be perfectly still for 30 minutes.

Apparently, I don't move in my sleep, because it knocked me out. :D

mamamerlee, LPN

Specializes in home health, dialysis, others. Has 35 years experience.

Wow. I am a large woman, and I cannot easily fit in a closed MRI machine. I had my spinal series done in an open-style machine. Not as claustrophic. Also, because I have reflux, I never lie completely flat, so I was nervous about being flat. Best wishes going thru this painless but still annoying procedure.


Specializes in Med/surg. ED. Palliative. Geront. Has 20 years experience.

lorazepam does the trick

Lacie, BSN, RN

Specializes in jack of all trades.

I am extremely clautraphobic and the MD gave me a RX for Valium10mg to take 30 min before and they still did it in an open MRI setting. I am not only claustraphobic but have RLS which makes it very difficult for me to be still for any length of time. Of course someone had to drive because I was too stoned after the Valium and had a great nap afterwards!


Specializes in research. Has 1 years experience.

Thanks for the info; I tried max doses of oral benzo's, but it didn't help. I don't do IV sedation, although the MRA facility offered it. My pain was so bad, I just had the exam. When I got there, they had a CRNA and sedation ready. I didn't want amnesia from benzos (Versed) and told them that I would try the MRA without anything. I guess that I'm a control freak. When I offered to pay cash for the CRNA (since whe was called in to do nothing), she declined to accept my payment. When I freaked out before the MIrI even started, the nurse told me to relax and "I will get you though this" Yeah, right! But she was right. Te CRNA covered my face with a wet washcloth and after I went into the tube, she held my foot (sticking out from the machine) and kept reassuring me.. and kept reminding me that she had a syringe full of a sedative in case things got crazy. Having someone there and reassuring me made all the difference!