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MRI claustrophobia remains a major concern in patients


“The data, staff and patients seem to suggest that claustrophobia or anxiety on MRI scans is still a problem,” said Darren Hudson, clinical manager of MRI at InHealth Group, a provider of diagnostic and care services health center based in High Wycombe, UK. AuntMinnieEurope.com.

“A lag in the use of technological advancements is a potential cause – aging scanners and the implementation of 70cm reaming and acceleration techniques – and COVID has had an impact on global anxiety,” said he explained. “The main problem is time – the lack of time and the time pressure to be able to adequately support and prepare patients.”

Darren Hudson from High Wycombe, UK

Together with colleagues from Medical Imaging, the College of Medicine and Health, and the College of Sports and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, Hudson conducted an online survey in the spring of 2021 to determine the opinions of MRI radiographers.

They received responses from 65 of the 350 MRI radiographers, and they published the results Oct. 14 in X-ray.

In total, 62% of radiographers said they had to treat particularly anxious patients daily, an additional 30% felt it was at least once a week, and only 8% said a lower frequency of the monthly frequency. CT anxiety is always present in the eyes of practitioners and is often a daily feature of clinical practice to be managed and supported, the authors wrote.

The six most common methods used to reduce patient anxiety were: intercom contact (used by 45 of 65 respondents), same day conversation (43 of 65), eye mask / close eyes (35 out of 65), one person in the room with them (32 of 65), spooled prism glasses / mirror (32 of 65), and oral medication (30 of 65). The effectiveness of each technique is shown below.

Responses as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted patients’ anxiety when they show up for scans have been divided; 40% thought it had no impact, 35% felt it had, and 25% said a little. Most noted was an associated fear of having to go to a hospital for a scan where there was fear of catching the virus, and this was also linked to a general fear of the public, especially in lockdowns, around leaving home and being exposed to the virus.

Role of radiologists

Overall, the support of the x-ray staff is an important factor in reducing patient anxiety and can make a real difference to the experience and success of a scan, the researchers said. More can be done to use the range of coping strategies available, with an emphasis on interventions that reduce the perceived threat and increase the capacity to cope.

“Ongoing support is needed for patients and radiographers to improve the MRI experience,” the authors concluded, noting that communication and interaction with the patient is important, although time is a barrier to always be able to. provide patient-centered care.

Using a virtual reality (VR) simulator can help by allowing realistic preparation and practice before appointments to reduce failures and improve compliance without taking up valuable scanner time, according to Hudson, whose thesis of PhD focuses on the use of VR as a preparatory tool. to support emotional control during an MRI.

Hudson and his colleagues are set to submit their second article on operational data for peer review. They are also planning a follow-up study on the patient perspective – what matters, their MRI journey, and their views on the effectiveness of supportive strategies.

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