It’s estimated that around 10% of the UK population are affected by claustrophobia during their lifetime*. So imagine the fear associated with having an MRI scan in a conventional ’torpedo tube’. As we get older, this is something that we could all have to face at some point.
Traditional MRI scanners require you to slide into a narrow tunnel or tube which many people find uncomfortably hemmed-in, cramped and can induce anxiety or panic. Indeed, up to half a million scans a year may be disrupted or aborted by claustrophobic patients, at a huge cost to the NHS.
Even an ‘open’ MRI scanner still requires you to endure the machine very close to your face as you have to lie between two magnetic poles, often referred to as a ‘double doughnut’ format. The distance between the upper and lower poles varies, but is typically only around 38 – 43 cm. Importantly, showing joints and the spine in natural weight-bearing positions such as sitting, standing, crouching, twisting is simply not possible – and you would still have the upper part of the scanner directly in front of your face, as the system is only open at the sides.
But there is an alternative. It’s called an Upright Open MRI.
Medserena Upright Open MRI centres in London and Manchester offer patients a state-of-the-art MRI examination that removes the feeling of claustrophobia and even allows you to watch TV or DVD, on a large screen, while your scan progresses. Patients have nothing in front of their face at all so there is no feeling of claustrophobia. All coils (antennae), even the head coils for brain scans, are designed to allow you to clearly see outside the system.
The procedure is conducted in a natural weight-bearing position so you can stand up, sit down, flex your neck and be moved into different postures – allowing the scan to be carried out in exactly the position that pain is experienced.
Indeed, some conditions may be underestimated or may not even be seen at all in a traditional tunnel MRI scanner. For example, this type of MRI scan can offer a thorough, more conclusive diagnosis of conditions ranging from problems with the spine or neck, hips, knees and foot, prostate or pelvic floor disorders, whiplash, sports injuries and even breast implant leakage.
The staff at Medserena Upright MRI Centres are specially trained in dealing with claustrophobic patients. And, if required, a relative or friend can stay with the patient in the room.
With increased awareness many more patients will benefit from this type of scan. Some will have had a conventional MRI scan but their condition may not have been properly diagnosed and they still suffer from pain. And others will be claustrophobic or anxious about the idea of going through an MRI ‘tunnel’.