There are good reasons why you would scream if you were having an MRI examination, even possibly frantically kicking your feet and waving your hands. I had one man I thought was in the imaging bore until I looked up and I saw that he was tapping at the window of the control room; he had brazenly scooted himself out. So then, why have the letters MRI struck a lightening bolt of fear into so many, even before they’d ever had their first examination? Let’s look at two of the main culprits and some proven solutions that remedy them, and which will ultimately help to eliminate that scream.
The number one culprit is claustrophobia. Some people knew they were claustrophobic and told me right up front. Usually they were the ones who had prepared themselves by taking a sedative their doctor had prescribed, or when they were scheduling their MRI told the scheduler they were claustrophobic and would require sedation. About 100% of the time, these folks made it through their MRI procedure comfortably. However, there were quite a few people that didn’t realize they were claustrophobic, until they were inside the imaging bore, and then they scream. Of the group, about 75% of them made it through the examination when they were given a little patience from the tech, a little pause between the noisy knocking sequences to see how they were doing, and a little panic ball or panic button that could be squeezed or pressed in the event of, what else, panic. The remaining 25%, the severely claustrophobic, required general anesthesia to have their examination completed – that was the course of action followed at the imaging center where I worked; other centers may handle it differently.
The number two culprit is pain. Here again, there were those people who knew they had a lot of pain, low back pain, knee pain, and elsewhere, and had prepared themselves by having pain medication on board that was prescribed by their doctor. The trick here, though, is taking that pain medication an hour before your examination. I’ve seen a lot of people take their pain medication way too early and wind up having their pain flare up while they’re inside the imaging bore, and as a result they scream. But of the folks who timed when they took their pain medication, a good 90% made it through their MRI procedure with little or no pain. The other 10% made it through but with a struggle. And for those who took their pain medication way too early or hadn’t taken any pain medication-scream. Almost 100% of them couldn’t make it through the first few minutes of their MRI procedure and needed to reschedule their examination for when they had pain medication on board. One final note regarding pain medication, I don’t know of any imaging center that provides it, with or without a doctor’s prescription. Customarily, you get the pain medication prescription from your doctor and have it filled at a pharmacy, not the imaging center.
The summation then is this: we want to have all our ducks in a row by taking care ahead of time those thugs that would prevent us from having a comfortable and successful MRI exam, namely: claustrophobia and pain. Remember, you’re going to be placed, maybe even squeezed – depending on your size, inside an imaging bore that’s usually stuffy and noisy for a good half an hour. Unless you’re prepared, it’s very likely that you’ll-scream.