Claustrophobia is the fear of being enclosed in a small space or room and unable to escape or get out.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical test that is used to visualize structures in the body. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, radio waves and receiver coils to generate images of organs in the body. MRI does not expose people to radiation like x-ray and CT scanners do. MRI is the best imaging technique for looking at soft tissue structures such as the brain and spinal cord.

An MRI scan requires the person to be placed into a magnetic field. Most of these are narrow tubes. The scanning process makes a lot of noise and usually takes 30 minutes or more to complete a study. Any movement by the person during the scanning process causes blurring of the images. The combination of the closed environment and the noise make it uncomfortable for some patients, especially if they are claustrophobic. Approximately 10 % of people who attempt an MRI are unable to complete it because of claustrophobia.

The open upright MRI scanner made by Fonar minimizes the feeling of claustrophobia because it is open in the front, back and top. People can sit and watch TV during many of the MRI examinations. The upright MRI also has the capability of imaging people in more than one position. Most MRI machines can only image people while they are lying down on the table, which is moved into the narrow tube within the magnetic field. The open, upright MRI machine can image people while they are lying down, sitting, standing and bending in different positions. This provides more information for the physician and less discomfort for the patient. Most people who have claustrophobia are able to tolerate the MRI scan in the open, upright MRI machine.

This is the structure of most MRI machines that can only perform the imaging studies with the patient lying on their back on a table that is moved into the core of the magnetic field where the images are captured. It is very tight and very noisy and takes 30 – 60 minutes to complete the scanning procedure. These types of scanners are located in hospitals and most private clinics in Canada.

The open, upright MRI machine is much better tolerated by patients who are claustrophobic. The scans can be performed with the patient sitting, lying down, or standing. People can watch television while the scans are performed. The unit is open in the front, back, and top. There is no narrow tube that the person goes in to. The Welcome Back Centre in Kamloops has the only open, upright MRI scanner in Canada.

Claustrophobia and MRI's