MRI - really scared

Hi there , my neuro has said that I need to have an MRI of both brain and spine and I know that this will take a long time. Last time I had a brain MRI , I had to be sedated and did not cope well with it but at least it didnt last too long. I was wondering if anyone had had an open MRI scan and that this would be easier to deal with? Does anyone know how I go about getting an open MRI and if I will have to go private and pay for it? I hope someone will have some advice on this as I am getting very worried about going for the MRI and that I will not be able to go through with it using the conventional tunnel MRI. thanks for any advice Judy x

Hi Judy, sorry I dont know anything about an open MRI. have you googled the subject?

I have had 4 MRIs in the past and do not suffer from any fear of them.

They are noisy machines and you do have to remain as still as possible.

If you cant get an open scan, have a word with your GP/neuro/MS nurse about better sedation and ways to cope.

The machine cannot harm you and you can have some favourite music playing, if you like. But some people really dont cope well, so I hope you will get more replies from those who have coped, despite their fears.

luv Pollx

Hi Judy

It is horrible being scared.

When I had my MRI done I told the person doing the MRI that I hated confined spaces and she talked to me while I was having it done. I could hear her talking to me through my headset and she could hear what I was saying. It was reassuring to constantly hear her voice. Why don’t you mention that? It does help honestly. If you really can’t bring yourself to do it then like Poll says ask for sedation choices.

Good luck with it and I hope you manage to find some sort of solution to help.

Shazzie xx

Yes, I had forgotten that the radiographer can talk to you. So if he/she keeps checking every few mintues, that you are alright, maybe that would help.


Some of the more recently upgraded hospitals have “Open” MRI scanners.

The reason that I used the quote marks is that “open” is a bit misleading - they are still a tube that you got through but it is just that it is a bit wider and less confining.

It’s a bit of a lottery depending a lot on when the hospital first invested in the scanners. The scanner for my first “MS MRI” was at the Mayday Hospital in Croydon and that was an open scanner (and the “May-die” is not exactly the most well funded hospital - apparently they got theirs after their old scanner unit (which was in a porta cabin in the car park) was torched by the local youths. (I really miss SE London!)

My last scan was in the University Hospital of Wales - supposedly the flagship for the Principality - and it looked and sounded like it came out of the Ark!

My Brother (who is under the National Neuro Hospital in London for a different condition) has just had 3 MRI scans ON A SINGLE DAY!!! Mind you the first one was aborted after they were trying to push him into the old standard size scanner despite him telling them “I didn’t fit in their last year and I haven’t shrunk!” (he isn’t fat but he has VERY wide shoulders) The people running the scanner told him that the wider the tube the more powerful the magnets have to be so the open scanners are much more expensive to run. (I don’t know how true that is)

You may be lucky and they have an open scanner at your hospital or at another one inb the hospital group. It is not unknown for patients with claustraphobia or who are a bit large to get their appointment moved to a more accomodating machine.

Hope that it all goes well. I have to say that everyone who has been doing my MRI scans over the years has been lovely. They are used to people being a bit scared. It’s hardly a daily occurrance for people!.

My tip is to take a pair of ear plugs with you. They don’t block out the sound but they make it a bit easier to live with.

judy when i asked my consultant about the open mri he said there is one in london but it is of course private and around £800 google should find it. gd luck Tony.

Hi, I hated having an mri done and the radiographer kept talking to me. It helped a lot. He told me how long for each section. And I came out for a breather too. Hope you manage ok.

Hi Judy ! It’s me again , please don’t worry. Rahma xx

Hi Judy,

When I had my MRI I was given a panic button - just in case - and was given ear phones - playing Sleeping Beauty believe it or not. If having some-one speak to you makes it better than ask for this instead. I’m sure thay want to make it as easy as possible for you as much as you do. Just remember than you aren’t in there forever - it will end, probably sooner than you are dreading.

I hope it all goes ok

take care of yourself

Kelly x

Judy! I had an MRI so many times, it’s nothing & you will be fine, trust me. X

Hi Judy

I was very apprehensive when I had to have my MRI’s but I really had nothing to worry about (apart from keeping still which I found difficult, particularly when the machine changes noise/vibration and I’d jump - god they are so noisy).

Ask the radiographer to turn the music up and take your favourite cd in with you. Give it to the radiographer and say it will help with your nerves. My first MRI I had my favourite band of all time - U2 - blaring into my ears very loudly!!! It helped calm me down (to a point).

It’s not something that is not stop for the 30 or so minutes either - there are pauses and the radiographer tells you how long each process is going to take - mine was around 3-5 minutes each process. That helps with counting down to it ending too.

I also found using a eye mask helped too. I don’t like enclosed spaces either but didn’t want to rely on my eyes suddenly opening without something covering them. I was also worried about the head guard they put on but that’s clearly to keep the head still during the process.

You will be absolutely fine but if you need to have some help then ask for a sedative - anything to get you through it :slight_smile:

Take care

Pen xx

HI, I too struggle to cope with MRIs and do use sedation. The most recent one I had was ok - I followed advice from here and kept my eyes closed from before going into the tunnel to being brought back out (the eye mask sounds like a good idea…), also because I had experienced panic attacks previously I was put in a bigger scanner and the difference was amazing - I think it was because I could feel air moving around me so it didn’t feel as claustrophobic. Worth asking about a bigger scanner as I would imagine most trusts would have one.

Oh, forgot to say I was told the scan in the bigger scanner was about 5 mins faster (though to be honest I can’t say i noticed…)

There is an open scanner in a BMI Healthcare hospital near Swindon - cost me £400 about five years back.
You could try the BMI and BUPA private hospitals near you, and check which ones have open scanners.

After the open scanner, all my scans were done in a tunnel machine. No problem for me witout music (disapointed), but I did draft a conference paper during one scan. Anything that takes your mind off the noise should work.


i asked my consultant, i went to the open mri in bristol on nhs, much easier