Claustrophobia and MRI

July 19, 2019 – 4 min read

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image of a white man in a lab coat and a stethoscope around his neck with arms crossed standing in front of MRI machine smiling at the camera

Claustrophobia is the fear of confined spaces. During an MRI, you lie on a table that is inserted into an MRI tube, which can cause some anxiety. Although space is roomy and is open at both ends, for those who fear closed spaces, this may still not be enough to provide comfort. Many people who suffer from some variation of claustrophobia, successfully get MRIs each year. In today’s post, we will review some of the ways that you and your MRI technologist can help reduce your anxieties and things that naturally help.

At Touchstone Imaging, we take every measure we can to help our patients be as comfortable as possible. Our MRI technologists will work with you to help reduce your fears and make your exam as quickly as possible.

Reducing Your Claustrophobia During an MRI

Know That You Aren’t “Closed In.”

Newer technology has transformed MRI machines from a dark, closed tube to a well-lit, ventilated machine that allows you to see outside the machine on either end. The open ends allow you to see your surroundings at all times. Advancements in medical software have sped up the MRI process and improved image quality while reducing the time spent inside the machine.  You also have the ability to end the exam and freely exit the machine if your claustrophobia becomes overwhelming.

Talk to Your Technologist.

The good news is, your experienced MRI technologist has, without a doubt, worked with many patients with similar fears and anxiety. Sometimes it is the fear of closed spaces, other times it is incredible pain or the pending results that cause an increase in anxiety when it comes to getting an MRI. While many patients find it relaxing to lie still, others find it terrifying. Your MRI technologist can help. Ask questions, be honest, and know that your technologist can hear you during the procedure, all you have to do is speak up! Your technologist can update you throughout the procedure and keep you calm by explaining what to expect and what is going on.


One of the best practices that anyone experiencing any form of anxiety during an MRI is to meditate. Your MRI technologist can play relaxing music that you enjoy to help you focus on something other than the space you are in. You can close your eyes and count, sing your favorite lyrics, or simply practice some mindful meditation. Not only will this help take your mind off what is going on, but it will help pass the time and may even help you sleep through the MRI.

Ask About Your Options.

MRI is one of the most useful diagnostic imaging tools available. However, it is not the end all be all, and if your claustrophobia is too much, you can discuss alternatives with your physician. Depending on what you are getting your MRI for, will guide what alternatives are available to you.

At Touchstone Imaging, we strive to make every patient as comfortable as possible while providing high-quality medical images for diagnosis and treatment planning. Your imaging team at Touchstone Imaging is here to support you with a caring touch and all the information you need. Visit us online to find a location near you and contact us to schedule your medical imaging appointment today.