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Staying Calm During MRI

6 Ways to Relax Inside an MRI Machine

Experiencing anxiety during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure is common. The machines are noisy (the result of banging metal coils vibrating with rapid pulses of electricity), and often a bit claustrophobic.

Staying Calm During MRIBut fear not, experts at UC San Diego Health work closely with patients to alleviate any concerns and ensure the highest quality of care.

First, the technologist will provide a thorough explanation of what’s going to happen during the MRI exam, leaving plenty of time for any questions. Don’t be shy.

He or she will also make sure you’re familiar and comfortable with your MRI team – all of whom are compassionate and highly trained. And during the actual exam, which can last from a few minutes to many, depending upon the number of images required, the technologist will talk with you between sequences via an intercom, which can help ease nerves by keeping you informed about what’s happening.

There’s also a call button that you can press at any time to let the technologist know if you have a question or an unbearable itch, need to be repositioned or just have to get out of the machine right away.

What else can you do to make things go more smoothly?

  1. Have a family member or friend present during the MRI.
  2. Enjoy the warm blankets or cushions offered by the technologist. Try putting a proffered pillow under your knees, if possible.
  3. You can use the lavender- and vanilla-scented eye pillows provided to help you relax and remain calm.
  4. Listen to music. The medical staff has the Pandora app available so you can choose your favorite tunes.
  5. Try to control your breathing. If you start feeling stressed, inhale through your nose and exhale slowly out of your mouth, counting to 10 each time.
  6. Go for a little guided mental imagery. Close your eyes and imagine in vivid detail being somewhere else, a white sandy beach or flower-filled alpine meadow, for example.
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