Open MRI scanners reduce anxiety in patients
8 September 2011
Patients who suffer from fear in small, enclosed spaces
(claustrophobia) experience less anxiety if examined in open than in
closed MRI scanners, according to a study by Charité –
The study compared two modern MR scanners with patients with an
increased risk of developing claustrophobic events.
Claustrophobia is a common challenge for performing MR imaging. In
order to obtain good image quality, patients often have to lie in a
narrow tube for over 30 minutes. It was found that up to 15% of all
MR examinations cannot be completed because of claustrophobia or
require conscious sedation for their completion.
This shows that it is of great importance to design more
patient-centered MR scanners. In the present study Privatdozent Dr.
Marc Dewey, chief attending of the Department of Radiology at Campus
Charité Mitte, and his team compared two more open MR scanners.
They investigated whether these new scanners could reduce the
number of claustrophobic events. One of the MR scanners is a
short-bore while the other is an open panoramic MR scanner. In order
to take part in the study, patients had to have an increased risk of
developing claustrophobia as assessed by the “Claustrophobia
Questionnaire” (CLQ). 39% of patients examined in the short-bore MR
scanner developed a claustrophobic event compared to 26% in the open
These event rates were higher than expected, and the differences
between the two scanners remained non-significant. Nonetheless,
claustrophobic events were reduced in comparison to prior
examinations in conventional MR scanners where 56% of the patients
had claustrophobic events. Moreover, the CLQ significantly
correlated with the occurrence of claustrophobic events.
“The CLQ may thus be a useful tool to detect patients at risk before
claustrophobia occurs. Further developments towards a more
patient-centered MR scanner environment are clearly needed to make
this important diagnostic test available to all patients”, explains
Privatdozent Dr Dewey.
1. Enders et al. Reduction of Claustrophobia with Short-Bore
versus Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A Randomized Controlled
Trial. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23494. doi:10.1371