Claustrophobia and premature termination of magnetic resonance imaging examinations

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2007 Aug;26(2):401-4. doi: 10.1002/jmri.21012.


Purpose: To evaluate the incidence of MRI-related claustrophobia and prematurely terminated MRI (ptMRI) examinations due to claustrophobia in a large-scale cohort study.

Materials and methods: The hospital's computerized radiology information system (RIS) was retrospectively analyzed for all 1.5-Tesla MRI examinations and reports during the year 2004. Data collected included demographic information, body part examined, known claustrophobia, and whether the examination was prematurely terminated. All information available on the MRI examinations and the patient-based data (i.e., excluding any additional examinations per patient) were analyzed.

Results: A total of 5798 MRI reports of 4821 patients were evaluated. A total of 95 patients (1.97%) suffered from claustrophobia and 59 (1.22%) prematurely terminated the examination due to claustrophobia. The incidence of ptMRI was higher in women than men (no statistical significance). The majority of patients with ptMRI were between 20 and 80 years old. Patients undergoing head MRI showed the highest incidence of ptMRI and those undergoing extremity, breast, or pelvic MRI had the lowest. Prone compared to supine positioning results in the lowest ptMRI incidence (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Claustrophobic reactions cause a relatively low incidence of ptMRI and are influenced by sex, body part examined, and positioning within the MR scanner. Sedation and prone positioning might help overcome these reactions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety
  • Cohort Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety