I Wish Singapore Hospitals Would Get Open MRI Machines for Claustrophobic Patients

I didn’t even know this option was available till I searched. Even more about this new technology here. I am writing this post as I myself have severe claustrophobia, and someone close to me has to go through an MRI and is understandably extremely anxious. Just thinking of what he has to go through makes my heart ache.

You can be sedated but the problem is you’ll still be conscious and claustrophobia is all in the mind so I don’t know how much that can help. Only someone else with claustrophobia will understand how hard it is to shut off those messages in your head that you’re going to suffocate as your heart beats out of your chest and your palms start sweating. My hands turn to ice just thinking about it. Please Singapore hospital administrators, if you reading this, get some new technology stat so patients don’t have to be traumatized when they are already so ill and in so much pain.

More googling revealed that there is an open MRI centre in Hougang. I wonder what the charges are like and if hospitals will coordinate with this centre for their patients.

I actually know of two people close to me who have to undergo this and I hope that somehow they can have this option. One of them is not claustrophobic but being so still in the tunnel like machine was a painful experience.

I also can’t help but think that these machines are available, but probably reserved for high paying VIP patients and if that is true it would be sad indeed.

I would love to seek the opinion of my Health blogger friend Sister Earth Organics who is also a nurse, and from any of you out there who have similar concerns.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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10 Responses to I Wish Singapore Hospitals Would Get Open MRI Machines for Claustrophobic Patients

  1. There are thousands of open MRI machines here in the states. I must say, I am not claustrophobic by nature, but I have had 3 brain MRI’s and they aren’t pleasant. Besides being in a dark tube, there is a cage that goes down over your face about 3 cm from your nose (large nosed folks wouldn’t be able to get them I suppose 🙂 It is loud as it sounds as if someone is banging with a metal wrench on the machine right by your head. It takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour.

    I am very surprised Singapore does not have these machines yet. Maybe if there is enough call for them, they will.

    This is one near me, http://openmriofmacon.com/

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thanks for the link and thanks for explaining further how it is the norm to have these open MRI machines now. As our ministry prides itself on being advanced I hope they take this important issue into consideration when they work on their hospital budgets. Oh boy, I had no idea the whole process took that long – that makes it even worse. I wish Singapore could have more nurses like you who would probably push for these patient friendly advancements.

      Is it true that the open MRI images are not as good or is it just an excuse given by our hospitals?

      • It seems that years ago, the images in an open MRI were not as good, but recently, with more powerful machines, and new software, the images are just as good if not better. It all depends on which machine is used.

        This is from an article in a local US newspaper:

        “We often end up getting better studies with open MRI, because the patient is more comfortable and doesn’t move as much,” Chastain said. “I think with most of the new (open MRI machines) coming out, the imaging is just as good (as with closed MRI). And we have computer software that can enhance the images.”

        Here’s a link to the whole article. http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/archives/3351/

        And then there was this from an experienced MRI tech on a Q & A site:
        To answer your question whether or not closed MRI is better than an open. I have been an MRI Technologist for the past 10 years. The key to optimal images on an MRI is that you want the body as close as possible to the coil without any outside interference since MRI works off of frequency and not radiation and you need the patient to be as still as possible. So in an open MRI, obviously the sides are open and the chances of interference is there however, today’s open MRI machines are equiped with the software that counteracts that. One could show off pictures from an open and closed MRI and it would be difficult to decipher which one is which. What makes beautiful pictures is the technologist, the protocol they use, and the patient (limit motion). Lastly you want a good Radiologist who is going to interpret your MRI to give you accurate results. Either machine will make excellent pictures, but it is the experience and technique behind all of it! One final note, the open MRI is mainly for comfort of the patient or if the patient is claustrophobic.

        I know it is hard for those with claustrophobia to even think about getting in a closed MRI tube, but like all phobias, there is help with behavioral therapy and meditation. You can “teach your mind” to perceive situations differently. This obviously takes time, but can be done with proper treatment. There are even therapists that use virtual techniques (wearing goggles like in a video game to make it seem that you are in an elevator, a cave, etc) that can be very helpful. In this virtual world, with the video graphics, the therapist can control the setting and there is some comfort for the patient knowing that they just have to take off the goggles, and the experience is over.

        Sorry, this is so long!

        • bookjunkie says:

          I am so grateful for all the information that is so detailed. It is really quite reassuring to be armed with more insider information. This clarifies quite a bit for me Savvy Sister 🙂 Knew I could always count on you for great medical insights.

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  3. Suresh Kumar says:

    Hi there bookjunkie!

    Sorry for this late late response to an article in 2011 but I have just taken over the Open MRI in Hougang as a business. It is open and available to anyone who has claustrophobia or any such space challenged inhibitions. I briefly read about your cancer treatment and hope that things are better since the treatment. We look forward to being of service to you in the near future. Our prayers and best wishes to your full recovery.

    Kind regards,

    Suresh Kumar (CEO Espire Health)

  4. Faizal says:

    Im supposed to do a brain mri but im afraid due to same reason claustophobia. My diagnosis is vestibular migraine.

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