Six Tips for a More Comfortable MRI Experience

The purpose of my MRI was to determine the extent of my uterine cancer prior to surgery. Regardless of the reason why you need an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) test, following these six tips will definitely make your experience more comfortable. I wish that I had known them before my own MRI.

1. Bring Your Own Music.

The MRI is incredibly loud and noisy! At various times, it sounds like a jackhammer is drilling right next to your head, a truck is backing up (next to your head), a car is having major difficulty starting, or you are going through a car wash without the benefit of a car!

Because of the noise, you are given earphones and offered a choice of music. I requested calm, lyrical classical music. The music I got was better suited to a parade than a nap. It wasn't exactly Beethoven's 9th Symphony, but it was just as energetic. This must was definitely not conducive to relaxation. When I complained, they gave me classical piano music, which was also much too vigorous.

My final choice was to have no music. However, in the future, should I ever need another MRI, I plan to bring my own CD!

2. Take a Sedative.

Regardless of the body part being scanned, your entire body will have to go into the tubular MRI. A sedative is a good idea, even if you're not claustrophobic. It is probably quite difficult to lie perfectly still for 40-60 minutes without a sedative!

3. Cover Your Eyes.

I had planned to keep my eyes closed the entire time (which I did). As an added precaution, they gave me a dry washcloth to put over my eyes- just in case I might inadvertently open my eyes. My advice- keep your eyes closed and take the washcloth as an added protection!

4. Bring Warm Socks.

The room was very cold, so I asked for two blankets. Even wearing my own socks and covered by the blankets, my feet were icy cold. So another good idea is to bring or wear some very warm socks!

5. Schedule for the Beginning of the Week.

My MRI was on a Friday before a three-day weekend, so I had to wait even longer for the radiologist to review and post the results of my test. If you have a choice, schedule your MRI for the beginning of the week. That way, you greatly increase the probability that you will get the results before the end of the week.

6. Borrow Patience!

It occurs to me is that we are called "patients" because we have to have a lot of "patience," no matter how stress inducing the wait for results may be.

The stress of having to wait probably explained my continual post-MRI craving for chocolate and carbohydrates! You may give in to the same cravings, but you'll learn what I discovered- that nothing you eat will really satisfy and fill that empty anxious place.

If you're lucky, your MRI staff will be competent, courteous and caring. My MRI staff certainly were. And if you take some of these suggestions to heart, your MRI experience should be as comfortable as possible.

Deborah Spring Laurel has been a trainer and a consultant in the areas of workplace learning and performance improvement for over thirty years. She has twenty-five years of experience as the President of Laurel and Associates, Ltd,, an international human resource development training and consulting firm that specializes in enhancing interpersonal dynamics within organizations. This journey with uterine cancer is a new learning experience for her.

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