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Are You Afraid Of Mri Machines?

hello, i am a 56 year old man,
about 3 monts ago i had an acciden and dislocated my shoulder, i was told by a doctor that i might need an
operation, but in order to have the operation an mri test has to be done, the mri was scheduled
and i was waiting , impatient to have it done,
well the day came , i went to the hospital,
the mri operator explained to me that the test will last about 20 minutes
she also ask me if i was claustrofhobic , i said no i am not,
then i was liyng down on the bed that goes in the machine,
then i was inside , the wall of the tunne was just a couple of inches from my face, immediately
i started to panic, and i was about to scream, i said to the lady please pull me out,
i was very happy to be out of there, it felt like i was trapped, very scared,
i though i was being barried alive,
at the same time i felt like a chicken, an adult scared for no reason,
the lady operatortrold me that i am claustrophobic, this is something i did not know,
i never had any problems before, i go on elevators, i am ok even if i am stuck in one,
as anyone experienced this before, can you share your experience?
jamespinto jamespinto 56-60 15 Responses Oct 3, 2010

Your Response


Hi all, positive mri to report!! Closed mri brain scan:Severley clostrophobic, have had panic attacks and sleeplessness for 4 days since i was told of my booking.Felt at every prior moment that i was going to cancel or walk out, already walked out of one closed mri, felt like wee willy winky bolting in my hospital gown!!Arrived this morning crying at reception shaking like a leaf!!Was given one tablet of ativan and put into a subdued waiting room with a nature program on to watch for 30mins. By that time, i now felt totaly relaxed and able to go with the flow, no negative thoughts hissing in my brain, heart rate normal. Was taken into scan room, asked what radio station i liked, given bud ear plugs and headphones. Lay down, had head cage moved onto me, could immediatly see with the reflective mirror attached a large lcd tv with a nature documentary on at back of tunnel behind me. Was slid deep into the bore with no feeling of tightness or trap feeling. Radiologist spoke to me at all intervals, beginning of tests and at end of each segment, so felt monitored. Cool air circulated down tube. The loud clangs and bangs of different frequencies and intensities sounded like i was in a bjork electronic sound orchestra - were actually interesting, not threatening. Had no time to panic about breathing or constriction at all. Was so entertained by sound vision and feelings. Was over before i knew it! Was 45mins all up, could've stayed in for longer!Should i need another mri i will confidently say i look forward to it!!!Absolute miracle!! The stressing and reading negative comments and experiences and watching mri scans on you tube are no help and are not a true reflection of how it will be for you at all!!! Afterwards i was given a lovely cuppa. Feel so elated with pride at what i experienced overcame and achieved today! I wish that for you too!!!

I totally had this happen. I went for one a few years ago, they asked if I was claustrophobic, I said no (because I've never even remotely felt claustrophobic in anything), and then as soon as they put me in, I began to completely freak out. I thought that feeling dizzy and like you were about to hyperventilate/pass out was normal though (??) so I stayed in the entire 45 minutes. When I came out, I had to be assisted to stand because I was so lightheaded and woozy. I asked if that was normal, and the nurse said "No!" It took me the rest of the day to calm down and feel like I was back in my body.

I needed a second MRI a year or so later, and I thought "Ok, I can do this," they were just about to take me back to the room, and I began sobbing like a little kid (I was 31 at the time) and saying "No, I can't go in there! I can't do it!" So they had to drive me (they literally had a car and a driver and drove me) to an open MRI facility across town, and they said "You wouldn't believe how often this happens....that's why we have a car service for it!" And I was fine in the open MRI.

Just went for an MRI this morning. I knew I was a little claustrophobic, but thought about how many ppl have done this and went ahead a made appt.

Once put completely into the machine, I felt like I was in a coffin. I said, nope, can't do this! He pulled me back out and said he could talk me through it. I asked how long I would be in there, thinking I could force myself to handle 5 mins. He said 25 mins if I stay still. Yikes! No can do!! I left.

Thought I would rather have a bad shoulder than go through this, ever!

Doc says there is an open MRI I can use. Will see.

Thanks for these posts, I was feeling so alone!!!

Had it done today after freaking out 4 weeks ago. They wanted to start the whole procedure over. I convinced them to do the dye like my doctor said I needed. Took valium and kept my eyes closed the whole time inside.

exactly in the same boat as you jamespinto. i was requested to get mri for my shoulder dislocation pain that has not gone away 6 months later. i have been told to get one done by a specialist. however because the machine is small the Dr first asked me to just go to x-ray place and ask them if i would fit or need to get sent to bigger machine at different location. when they tried putting me in head first, as soon as my head went in the tunnel i started to panic. then my shoulders started touching the sides and made me panic more... i told them stop get me out. they did straight away and said this one is too small and i would need the "wider bore"...however i told them i could never do it. due to that short 30sec experience, i started shaking, sweating, my heart beat raced and until i was taken out of tunnel i felt i was going to get stuck and die.....of course this meant i had a panic attack and must mean i am claustrophobic of the MRI tunnel. since this experience on Thursday i have not been able to stop thinking about the experience or the feeling i had. also i can't stop thinking about it and what if i need one in future...i will probably end up saying "NO WAY" and sacrificing my health. at present my state of mind from this experience has made me cancel the current investigation i am having with dr..instead hoping that physio will fix the problem....however that still does not stop me thinking of the experience i had over and over again.

As I understand, there are "OPEN" MRI systems now, where you will have your head clear away from teh inside. Unless it's your head that needs examining.

I have experienced the same problem and I am older than you. I needed a scan on my shoulder and I thought I would be OK but as soon as I was pushed in panic started and I had to come out. It was awful. I have not booked another visit so I am living a painful nightmare as my shoulder gets worse, but what can I do? I can not go back in.

4-08-2013. I had a bad experience at another MRI site one week ago and had been
"pertified" for over a week thinking about having to climb into another MRI machine. I did not know much about an MRI and I lasted about four minutes and hit the panic button and said "get me out". I got online to do some research after someone told me that there are bigger MRI machines in Indianapolis. Through that research I found CDI and came to see the machine one week ago today. The tech was very happy to show me the MRI machine and so then I got my doctor to order the MRI at CDI - South. My appointment was scheduled out a few days as you do not do the IV- sedative all the time. So
I had several days to "stew and fret" about if I could do this procedure. I even had a couple of panic attacks last night as the time drew near. (I am typically not the type person to have panic attacks!) But it all got better when I arrived there this morning. The three ladies did all the necessary checking-in and talking to me and told me they would get me through the procedure and that they did. They gave me a warm blanket, my IV-sedative, and put the radio on Willie's Roadhouse. I don't even remember going into the machine. The first thing I remember was she told me I had two more scans to go. All I know is that I felt warm and cozy. I barely heard any more sounds until she said "we're done and we'll get you out".
I hope this response will help someone.

I am a 41 year old woman and had the same exact experience accept I freaked out right before they slid me into the machine! Now, although I need the test, I'm not sure how I'm going to get this done. Going to the hospital to have anesthesia is looking increasingly like the best option. Cuz I really do not think I can do this even with drugs.

I was exactly the same when I had to go in one. Never been claustrophobic before but like you screamed to get out. It was the feeling of it squeezing my shoulders and arms that I didn't like. Doctor said unless I am sedated, I will have to go without an MRI so I am still in pain fours years on as they still don't know what's wrong with me.

Rlwilroy male 63 yrs old.Went for an MRI on my head, like most I had no idea I was claustrophobic. Once the bed started to go inside I panicked, started screaming to get me out,it felt like I was been squeezed, had a hard time breathing. I have never had the MR I done. Since the experience I have difficulty sleeping, I feel like I am being smothered when I start to go to sleep. It is so bad I have a difficult time in movie theaters if
I am not on the end. My Doctor has prescribed Ativan, which I use sparingly . It is comforting to read of other experiences.

"Since the experience I have difficulty sleeping, I feel like I am being smothered when I start to go to sleep".....i know exactly how you feeling. as soon as the light go out now i start getting tense. i even had to keep light on while i slept on a few occasions. the darkness just made me remember my experience and having the panic attack

I had similar experience but i was able to finish the procedure, thinking that if i asked that it be stopped, i will have to go though it again. i was so relieved when it was finally over.

Dude I **** you not the same thing happened to me, my tech guy asked it I was, I said no and then it turned out I was..It was so bad, my tongue could literally touch the top..I freaked...

I have to have an MRI tomorrow. I am already freaking out about it. In the last 2 years I out of the blue developed massive claustrophobia. I am overweight too which doesn't help. It feels like being in a coffin, and I freak too. I am really scared again!

I am an MRI technologist and I help claustrophobic patients all the time. I have created a website that may be of interest to you to answer questions and help to understand the proceedure. The site is

I am massively claustrophobic and overweight too. Makes it worse. I have an MRI tomorrow. I am gonna go to your website and see if I can calm down!

That's a great idea. Fear of the unknown can sometimes be worse than the procedure itself. - You should create a story so people can keep the link in their libraries.

I am claustrophobic of closed tight spaces where it I can't easily leave. I've had 2 MRI's, one open, one closed. Yes, the machine is inches away from my face but I didn't think about that. Before I was wheeled into the machine I close my eyes and think about something pleasant. For me its animals. I remember relaxing or fun times with those pictures in my mind of the time I was petting them and how they reacting. <br />
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This is called 'visualization' and it has helped me on more than one occasion in my life. You may want to look into it, it really helps. Its basically mind over matter. For me the loudness of the magnetic energy was much more difficult for me. I can't turn off my hearing. They did give me ear plugs of some sort. My hearing is so acute, I could still hear it loudly. <br />
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If this doesn't work for you, I suggest you don't get a CT scan. Its worse.

I have to have an MRI tomorrow and I am freaking out massively. I Hate being in an enclosed space!

Well freaking out isn't going to help you get through the procedure. Do you think you could do what I did? It doesn't have to be about animals, you pick something that would allow you to be transported away from your physical surroundings. Close your eyes &amp; begin your visualization BEFORE you are under the machine. If you can, ask your physician that ordered the scan to give you a small prescription for ativan or a kind of panic disorder relaxation medication or if you can have someone drive you there, enjoy some alcohol. Don't get drunk (if its for your head) but enough to relax you so you can be less freaked out.

I am trying to calm down tonight. My doc gave me Ativan today for tomorrow. He told me to take 2 tonight to see if it works. If not, then they can sedate me maybe tomorrow if need be. I am worried about not fitting, as I am overweight and have extra weight on me now due to fluid retention due to kidney failure and sepsis in June. I have 50 lbs of water on my abdomen. Will make it an even tighter squeeze on an already overweight situation.

I think the machine can accommodate people of all sizes, not just thin ones. It does move up &amp; down as well as back &amp; forth. I don't think your doctor would have ordered the scan if he/she didn't think you'd fit. - You'll lie on a cushioned bench type thing, wear something that will keep you warm because the room is COLD (to keep the machine from overheating). Don't wear any metal including underwire bra. You can keep one in your purse to put on afterward. Some doctors lock your valuables in a little room or some use a locker. It depends on the place. Be sure to arrive a little early because you'll probably have to fill out some paperwork.

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