Improving Patient Comfort during MR Scans

May 6, 2015 | Evaluations & Guidance


In general, MR scans are not conducive to patient comfort. Patients are usually already anxious, and must remain still in a narrow tube while being blasted with loud and unusual sounds. Some of these patients—often with no previous experience of claustrophobia—will suffer a panic attack midway through the study. Even patients who move only a little in response to the noise and confinement can cause a study to be nondiagnostic. In such cases, the study may need to be repeated (amplifying the patient's anxiety), or the patient will have to be sedated, or the study will be abandoned. Furthermore, the schedule will be disrupted, and revenue will be lost.

Early estimates found that claustrophobia affects 4% to 30% of patients referred for MR imaging (Melendez and McCrank 1993). Later studies have found lower rates—for example, Eshed et al. (2007) found that 95 patients out of 4,821 (2%) suffered claustrophobia, with 59 studies (1.2%) being prematurely terminated. Patients who are undergoing a head exam or who are being examined in the prone position are more likely to have their study terminated. None of these rates count studies affected by patient movement or patients who refuse to be referred for MR knowing that they will suffer claustrophobia. Combining the results from 12 previous studies, Dewey et al. (2007) found that on average,...

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