Tips for coping with brain MRI

Hi all

I have my brain/spine MRI later on this week and wondered if those of you who’ve gone through this ‘experience’ could share your tips for coping with it?

I’ve sat next to my daughter when she had an MRI of her foot earlier this year so am aware of all the strange banging and clanging sounds but its more the thought of my head being in there as saw that its pretty confined and I want to try and remain as calm as I can as know its important not to move about.

Any tips would be most welcome.


Jane x

hiya jane

close your eyes and go elsewhere-anywhere!

i find the noise rhythmic and have nodded off more than once!

u can listen to music but hate owt in/around ears!

say to self, this will soon be over.

its only less that an hour of ur life, think of what u will do with all the other hours once its over!



Yep, just close eyes and daydream :slight_smile: I was worried too beforehand, but actually it was not bad and I did open my eyes a few times just to see what it was like.

In my second scan, they had a mirror thing that reflected to a tree scene on the wall behind the scanner. To be honest, I didn’t really get to enjoy the tree scene much as my eyes mostly stayed closed, but I guess some people must like it.


Thank you both for your replies. I’m fairly good at zoning out these days so hope I’ll be able to reproduce that in the scanner rather than at times when I should be ‘on it’!

Jane x

It didn’t bother me at all when I was in there. I did have earphones in - with music playing - but it doesn’t drown out much of the banging tbh. I almost fell asleep during the MRI. It’s really not so bad :slight_smile:

I put on a eye mask and I put it on before I was wheeled in it helped a great deal as even if I opened my eyes I couldn’t see I was also prescribed diazepam from the doctor which helped as well to relax me

good luck let us know how you get on, am

i right in thinking your having it down privately ? Does that mean you will get the results there and then??


Yes I’d thought of an eye mask too but suspect it might make me feel more confined.

Thank you. Yes having it done privately. Won’t get results immediately as they’ll be emailed to my neuro but apparently I’ll get a copy on CD to go away with.


Make sure you get your head in a comfy spot before you go in. I had a full brain/ CNS mri with and without contrast and I wasn’t quite back far enough so the back of my head was testing on the edge of the foam indentation from head to neck. Imperceptible at first but bloody painful after nearly two hours. Also, if you like the music have it turned up LOUD and ask for your radio station of choice. I have a follow up mri (full CNS with contrast again) and this is what I will do. Other than that, pretty easy if dull. I’m I aiming on having a song along to myself. Xx

Get them to put a triangular cushion under your knees. (They will almost certainly have one, but if they don’t a couple of pillows will do.) It makes it a million times easier and more comfortable to stay still and not fidget.

And - and this is the most important thing for me - shut your eyes when they start to slide you back into the machine and keep them firmly shut until they’re pulling you out again.

They’re safe and they are amazing and they are close enough to magic to make no odds as far as I am concerned. You’ll be fine.


Thank you Katy and Alison for your replies too. Great advice and yes, I’ll make sure I’m in a comfortable position before starting and request the pillows if not automatically offered. Think I’ll be definitely keeping my eyes shut too!

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.



Hi, I recently had a brain and full spine MRI with and without contrast, I was in the scanner for over an hour.

What helped me was I asked the radiographer to talk through what he was doing when I was in the scanner and it really helped. You can speak to them when in the scanner. He said things like “relax, you’re doing really well, I’m just going to set up the next scan that will be one minute and so seconds”. The radiographer talking to me made time pass quite quickly.

If you are uncomfortable in the scanner let them know ( as others have said), I even pressed the buzzer as my neck and spine felt over stretched. The radiographer came in an put a pillow under my knees and I moved my head up slightly. This really helped.

I visualise and think about a time when I felt happy, relaxed in my life. This was a weekend trip away to a country estate and gardens years ago.

Hello Jane,

The MRI is probably the most boring, tedious and empty medical procedure ever devised by mankind.

But the pictures are fascinating. I paid the hospital 15 quid to put them on a CD. I can now go for spin around my nervous system before dinner. I’m thinking about giving talks.



(I really should get out more)

Hahaha now that made me laugh! We could have a compare & contrast web presentation one evening on the forum!


I’m vaguely astonished that anything so positive would come out of this. Let’s roll!


Jane & Anthony,

The images are amazing, it is the only picture of me that I like !

As for a coping strategies - the noise is annoying so get earplugs or listen to music then just investigate the furthest deepest bits in your imagination. The time will evapourate

All the best Mick

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That is brilliant Mogace!

Through my line of work I was privileged enough to see an MRI scan of a pregnant women with her baby in-utero which was fascinating…

I’m afraid that when I get my CD I’ll be trying to self-diagnose whilst awaiting to see the neuro (not that I’ll have any idea really what I’ll be looking at!).

Thanks for the advice.


Hi Jane,

I have mild panic attacks when I’m in situations I can’t get out of. Got my Dr to prescribe diazepam . Worked a treat.

Closed my eyes and the banging noise I imagined I was on my motorbike riding through the Lake District.

You do have verbal contact with the radiographer and a panic button you can press if necessary.

Hope it goes well. Admit I was fascinated by the pictures too.

Jen x

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I’ve had quite a few MRIs over the years. What really surprised me was that I almost always zone right out and fall asleep. They often offer to put music or the radio on, but actually I find that more annoying than anything. It’s partly because the machines make a hell of a racket, some scans more than others, so music is drowned out.

You’ll find that they do a series of scans, each one with its own rhythm and noise, sometimes they’ll tell you how long each one will be, but as you have no notion of time, it’s pretty meaningless.

As Alison said, get them to put a cushion under your knees. They often offer this but sometimes don’t. It’s definitely easier to stay still with a cushion. And if you move, they’ll have to do that scan again.

Often they’ll do two sets of MRI scans, one without and one with contrast dye. This is where they pull you out half way through and stick some dye into a vein in your arm. Usually with a cannula, but I’ve had it injected in too. The idea is that the contrast dye helps to enhance lesions and oddities in your brain and spine.

Personally, I’ve paid for CDs of the MRIs before, but apart from just being able to point to the picture and say “look see, I have got a brain!” to your friends and family (I think everyone does that at some point), it’s a bit difficult to know what you’re looking at / for.


Thank you all again for your replies.

Had the scan yesterday and it certainly wasn’t the unpleasant experience I had expected. I kept my eyes closed when being pushed in and during the scan and just tuned into the different sounds drifting on and off. The radiologist was great at keeping me informed and checking I was ok.

Had a quick look at the CD this morning - it’s pure magic really and I’m in awe of this technology.

Next stage is follow up with neuro.

Wishing you all a good day


Great news Jane … Could you tell anything with your cd?? When is your neurologist appointment ??

take care