MRI scanning is a vitally important diagnostic tool, allowing physicians to diagnose and treat a whole host of health conditions from a broken bone to dangerous tumors. When a person suffering from claustrophobia needs an MRI, however, it can be challenging to obtain the necessary images, thus hindering the ability to continue with the proper treatment. These concerns must be addressed in order to provide medical treatment to people suffering from claustrophobia.

Claustrophobia is a phobia that is typically characterized by a fear of dark, confined spaces which can occur anytime that someone feels as if they are trapped and cannot get out. According to, Claustrophobia affects up to 5% of the general population in the United States, including mild versions of the phobia. Further studies revealed that up to 13% of patients reported having panic attacks during MRI procedures, with approximately 1.22% prematurely terminating the exam due to feelings of claustrophobia.

This is a real issue for patients and medical imaging specialists, leading to new techniques and MRI scanners to assist those with this phobia of confined spaces.

Today, there are MRI options available to patients suffering from claustrophobia with modern equipment that is more open and less constricting. Even faster techniques are available so that patients can still get the diagnostic images they need without having an anxiety attack.

GWIC Offers MRI Equipment with Advanced Technology to Assist Those with Claustrophobia

Greater Waterbury Imaging Centers realizes how important it is that you receive the scan your physician has ordered for your medical care. We also realize how difficult it can be for some patients to remain still for up to twenty minutes or more while in a confined space, without experiencing anxiety.

GWIC utilizes MRI equipment with advanced technology such as the 1.5T Optima 450W MRI scanner which holds patients up to 450 lbs. This open-ended scanner gives patients the opportunity to enter feet first, which is extremely beneficial to those requiring scans of lower extremities such as the foot, leg or knee. Avoiding the usual entry method of head first is a solution for these patients.

Other accommodations offered by GWIC to help those suffering with this phobia include:

  • Well-lit and ventilated scanners that are open on both ends
  • Ear plugs are provided to block out the loud noises caused by MRI equipment which can just annoy or startle some patients and may cause anxiety in others
  • Knowledgeable and experienced MRI technologists that understand your anxiety and communicate with you throughout the test to alleviate your symptoms. You will always know how long the test will take and what you should expect.
  • A call button is provided so that you can alert the technologist to stop the scan if you need a break or further accommodations
  • GWIC offers Propeller technology which uses motion correction to obtain images faster minimizing the need for repeat images
  • Lavender aromatherapy personal tabs are provided to help calm the patient with soothing lavender scent. The adhesive tabs can be placed on the patient’s clothing and emit the scent for up to 8 hours. These have been proven to be very helpful in reducing anxiety and claustrophobia
  • Sleep masks help to calm some patients, especially when used in conjunction with ear plugs some patients feel so calm they almost fall asleep during the exam

If you experience any claustrophobic symptoms or fear that you may have difficulty completing your MRI exam, please speak to our experienced technologists. While we do not provide anesthesia, we often refer patients back to their physician for anti-anxiety medication which can help most patients to complete their exam.  Be encouraged to call us to arrange a visit and tour of our imaging center to set your mind at ease before your exam.

During a six-month period here at GWIC, only 1% of our patients were referred for anti-anxiety treatment to complete their MRI exam, and with over 70% of those patients returning to complete their scans successfully and comfortably. If you have a fear of confined spaces but need medical imaging exams, please do not put off your treatment when there are viable options available.

Our Non-Claustrophobic MRI Scanner has helped alleviate this debilitating phobia and allow these patients to obtain the medical imaging scans they require.

Greater Waterbury Imaging Center employs skilled technologists that care about your comfort, safety and overall health. Feel free to discuss any fears or concerns about your MRI scan with your physician and contact GWIC with any questions you may have about your medical imaging scans.