What if you are claustrophobic? There are ways to help! On this page I will provide links to resources to help you understand and overcome your claustrophobia.
If you know that you are claustrophobic you can still have an MRI. When an MRI has been ordered for you make sure you discuss your claustrophobia with your doctor. She can often prescribe oral medication to help you relax during the test. Most claustrophobic patients have very successful MRI's with just a little bit of the right types of medication. In my opinion if you go to your test knowing fully what to expect and having your doctor prescribe the right kind of medication your odds of having a successful MRI will be greater than 99.9%. Be sure to take advantage of all the information on this site to familiarize yourself with MRI's and talk with your doctor if you think you might be claustrophobic.
Even if you have severe claustrophobia you can still have an MRI. There are some specialized facilites that offer IV sedations or in the most extreme cases general anesthesia. Only a small percentage of the population will ever need these measures, however.
There are also many resources online for overcoming your claustrophobia without medications. These include websites, books, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), aromatherapy, and much, much more.
It will also help if you are able to find a facility in your region that has modern equipment and an experienced staff. A recent study found that "[t]he claustrophobia rate was reduced by a factor of three just by using this patient-friendly scanner," The scanner referred to here was one the newer generation of MRI scanners with a more open architecture like a CT scanner. These newer scanners are becoming increasingly popular and a call to your local facility can confirm if they have one. Even if they don't they will usually be able to direct you to a nearby location that does. Also, when looking for experienced technologists to perform your scan you should always look for an ACR accredited facility. ACR stands for the American College of Radiology. You can find an approved location by searching the ACR Accredited Facility Search.