• Are you claustrophobic in a CT/PET scan, MRI, Bone Scan, or while wearing a mask for radiation?

    Asked by GregP_WN on Wednesday, January 9, 2019

    Are you claustrophobic in a CT/PET scan, MRI, Bone Scan, or while wearing a mask for radiation?

    How do you handle it? Do you have to be sedated? This is a terrible fear for lots of people. Maybe we can offer some tips to get around/through it for them. Let's hear your ideas.

    16 Answers from the Community

    16 answers
    • Carool's Avatar

      I've never been claustrophobic. I don't have frequent MRIs, but when I've had one I use a few mental tricks. I keep my eyes closed the moment I'm going into the machine until the moment the test is over. I try to think of the MRI's noises as being very modern, robotic music, and try to follow its soulless sounds. My problem is that it's hard to keep absolutely still, though I've managed to do that.

      I try to distract myself. Think of kittens. Food. Sex. Anything far away from an MRI machine.

      And when I was having annual breasts MRIs, I was so grateful that the test time was reduced from an hour (half hour on each breast) to a half hour (both breasts done at once).

      10 days ago
    • cllinda's Avatar

      I am! And when they wanted to do a brain mri, I had to be sedated. We tried it without and I couldn't do it at all..

      10 days ago
    • Richardc's Avatar

      To get through treatments with the mask I insisted they create a hole where my mouth was. Even though I could breathe through the mesh, it just made me feel more closed in. They finally agreed. Also, brought my own music to go in the CD player. Was a great distraction.

      10 days ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I am not claustrophobic, but I will say that when they made my mask I was very uncomfortable. They make the mask by taking a flat sheet of webbed plastic and soak it in extremely hot water to soften it. After it sets there for a few minutes they will take the mask out of the water and put it over your face and press it down hard to let the plastic conform to the shape of your face and head. This process is uncomfortable and lasted for about an hour while they worked on the mask until it fit my face. During treatments this mask is put over your face and it is attached to the table that you are laying on. That part is what gets a lot of people. You can't lift up, turn your head, or move. After I had a few treatments I got used to the whole process and it didn't bother me.

      A bone scan was a little unnerving too, when the machine lowered down over my face I jerked because I thought it was going to keep coming down and smash my face. But, it was all good.

      I know a lot of people suffer with this condition and it's a serious problem for them. I hope we get lots of responses here to help them be able to manage it and get through these procedures.

      Thank you all for your input!

      10 days ago
    • Dkatsmeow's Avatar

      i am Claustrophic. The 1st time they fitted the mask, they were so kind as to cut out eyes & a mouth for me. That helped. The 2nd time they only cut out the nose. the worst is being latched down to the table. But then you don't them radiating the wrong area either. I kept my masks & use them for Halloween decorations every year. In 2018 they were used as an alien. Grandson liked it!!

      10 days ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      CT scans are a piece of cake. Mine are quick and easy.

      MRIs, i tend to focus on all the noises being made by the machine than on being in a tube. They don't bother me.

      The radiation mask ... it bothered me at first. I started to panic the first day. I did a lot of mind over matter thoughts and calmed down fairly quickly. I watched the machine. Visualized the tumor exploding, felt my eyelashes hitting the mask, listened to the music playing in the background, thought about what else was goingon the day...

      10 days ago
    • JaneA's Avatar

      MY SBRT radiation for my lung met was a bit challenging. They put a large plastic disc on your chest and apply pressure from above to dampened your breathing to keep your lungs from moving.

      But the staff was so friendly and encouraging that I just took slow breaths and imaged those radiation beams killing those cancer cells and looked forward to a trip to the beach.

      It's doable but we have can do things that we didn't think that we could.

      Cancer patients are some of the bravest people on the planet.

      9 days ago
    • grandmaann's Avatar

      I am terribly claustrophobic - just the thought of being confined in a machine gives me anxiety. So far I have had 4 PET scans and have been sedated with all of them. They are trying to get the dose right by are having a tough time. The first one was a disaster - they gave me Ambien through an IV (I had not had a port put in yet). The drug wore off when I was about half way done. It was terrible. The second one was pretty good but the third scan they gave me way to much and I was totally out of it for the rest of the day. Don't remember much about that day at all. The last scan I had was pretty good but I think I still got to much of the drug. Hopefully they will figure out the right amount to give me soon because I will have several more before this is over.

      9 days ago
    • SandiA's Avatar

      I am not claustrophobic. The mask didn’t really bother me. But I have a few tips, when they offer it I always say yes to the music. That helps the time pass quicker. At times I have actually fallen asleep. Always say yes to the warm blanket. It helps me relax. One time I thought it was taking longer and was a little panicked so I took a tip from my grandmother. I thought about each family member one by one and spent a little time praying for each one.

      9 days ago
    • grandmaann's Avatar

      That is a brilliant idea! I will use that one for sure!

      Thanks for the idea!

      9 days ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      Comedian Steven Wright joked that he had an MRI just to see if he was claustrophobic. I am not, and use the time to take a snooze. i've been in the tube so many times that I have lost count.

      8 days ago
    • Dkatsmeow's Avatar

      I'm not sure which is worse, The mask or the HBO treatment. You are in a tube for about 2 hours. I would stay up late at nights just so I could sleep during the HBO treatments. And tried really hard not to think about it. Looking back I'm not sure how I did it. I am not looking forward to having to it again. but I will I need alot of teeth pulled.

      8 days ago
    • KB2013's Avatar

      Most mri’s today are open at both ends. I like the noise and usually doze off while getting the mri which takes 40 minutes for the brain. Had my 3 month mri yesterday and brain’s okay except for one met.

      5 days ago
    • Paperpusher's Avatar

      Hubby is definitely claustrophobic. His onc gave him Xanax and Ativan to to take for his PET scans. He takes a Xanax the night before and the morning of the test. He takes the Ativan with him and takes it when the tech tells him too. He walks in but he gets taken out by wheelchair. I get him in the house and he sleeps the rest of the day.
      I'm like some others here. I find the MRI machine relaxing as long as I have a blanket and air flowing through.

      5 days ago
    • smlroger's Avatar

      Never had any issue with PET scans or with the 35 treatments I had wearing a face mask to hold my head in place. Would start out with some deep breathing and relaxation and was asleep within a couple minutes. I feel very fortunate that I didnt have any issues. I think the people running the machines have a lot to do with having a relaxed environment.

      5 days ago
    • andreacha's Avatar

      I am extremely claustrophobic and always have been. When I started MRIs every 3 months they would lightly sedate me. That was from 2006 and 2012. When I had to change to a facility closer to home they realized that I had Sleep Apnea and used a CPAP machine. They said it would be too risky to sedate me with the Versed. I was promised that the tech at my hospital would get me through the MRI each time. That's a big promise. I was told to take 2 Xanax and 1 Ativan on my way to the hospital. The new tech (new to me) came out into the rather full waiting area and announced my name. I raised my hand in response. In front of everyone he asked if I had remembered to remove my nipple ring today!! I couldn't say a word and he said "Well I'll take that as a yes" and started wheeling back to Imaging. I liked him immediately. He took his time and made sure I had taken the meds. He placed a folded facecloth over my face, put on a big but soft leather ear speakers. Then he covered me with a nice warm blanket. Secured my arms to my sides. He said that we would be communicating constantly through out the testing. He would tell me which frame we were on and how long it would take, the remaining number of
      frames etc. The speakers were excellent, far better than I expected. I could talk to him at any time during the test. He would encourage me as to how well I was doing. He was great. I refuse to go thru that machine with any other tech. I know when his vacation days are to be taken for my scheduling purposes. After about 6 months I decided not to take the Ativan. I didn't feel like taking it anymore as it made me feel too groggy. Dr. was OK with that and I haven't taken any since.We,
      Richard and I, have been together for 6 years now. He's very kind, considerate and compassionate. My Oncologist teases me that Richard and I have something going on, but he too knows not to schedule me unless Richard is working.

      4 days ago

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