Taking the fear out of having MRI scan
We talk to Áine McGovern, Clinical Lead and Training Facilitator MRI about helping people who may be reluctant to have a scan through anxiety or clinical conditions such as claustrophobia.
How many claustrophobic patients do you see?
We scan around 60 hours per week on the open scanner and we use over 85% of that time scanning patients with varying degrees of claustrophobia.
How can you help me to overcome my fear and go through with the scan?
My colleagues and I have a lot of experience in MRI and spend a lot of time helping people with claustrophobia or other anxieties that may leave people feeling reluctant to have their scan. All our staff from the bookings team, receptionists and the radiographer assistants take great care in helping patients feel at ease and ensuring everything leading up to the scan is stress free. Having our own site which doesn’t really feel like a hospital (and with free parking!) definitely helps with a stress free experience.
We are very lucky to have the specialist scanners that we have which makes our job a lot easier. Our open scanner allows patients to look out of the open sides for most body parts and they can have a relative to hold their hand or just be there for reassurance. The design allows us to be very flexible in how we scan and definitely helps with success rates of helping you through the scan. This scanner is in a very spacious, bright and airy room. On one of our scanners we have a wider bore with something called an ambient experience. This means for all body areas you can watch a screen with scenery or animations or for very long examinations you could watch a film. This scanner is wonderful to work on and we have found a lot of patients who did not like a standard MRI really enjoyed this one and the lights and film really helped make the experience fly by and more relaxing. In fact, we have had to wake people up at the end!
The best resource we have at Cobalt is time. We have longer appointment slots for claustrophobic patients at Cobalt on the open scanner so we can do everything we can to help you through your scan.
How likely is it that I will be able to go through with my scan?
I would say extremely likely. Very few patients go away without a scan. On the day bring some support and let us take care of the rest when you get here. We have lots of ways of helping you through. If you still feel very anxious about coming to us you could speak to your referrer or your GP about ways of managing anxiety. You can also watch a video beforehand on what to expect on our website. Click here to see a short video showing a radiographer helping a patient on to our high field open MRI scanner.
What if I panic and need to stop the scan?
We will never leave you in the scan room until you are comfortable so hopefully you shouldn’t feel panicked during the scan. We will check on you frequently between the sequences and we can tell you rough timings of each section or count down to the end if that helps. If in between us checking chatting with you over the microphone you need any reassurance you have a little buzzer in your hand all the time that you can use to get in touch with us throughout the scan. We will not make you do anything you do not want to.
Do you see NHS patients as well as private patients?
Yes, in fact 75% of the patients we see are NHS patients, just ask your referring doctor if they can send you to Cobalt for your scan. This will not cost the NHS any more than sending you to the local hospital and we can accept most types of referral.
How can I find our more?
Patients can visit the patient pages on the website for more information on MRI scans and other types of diagnostic imaging available at Cobalt.