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MRI Claustrophobia

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2020


Dec 2016    4.0

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May 2020   5.5 (retest after 21 days of Cipro)

70 year old white male. 

No previous testing done other than digital and psa until now. Doctor scheduled me for an MRI this morning. I couln't do it due Claustrophobia. When I was put into the machine it was hot and I started freaking out and couldn't deal with it. The attendant said I'm not the first one. I was sweating like a pig. 

He suggested the doctor prescribe a sedative and try it again, I don't know. I was really freaking out. Is this something that can be done by putting me to sleep until it's over?

My PSA has been above 4.0 for several years now, I have mild pain on left side and in my back. I've recently had a upper GI, CT scan and lung CT scan. All came back clear

It's getting harder to urinate, at times I go all day and only drops come out no matter how many times I go. 

Should I suggest the biopsy route at this point or try the MRI again? I read that a sleeping mask might help. 

Thanks for any help. (I guess I'm just a big old wimp...lol)


VascodaGama's picture
Posts: 3427
Joined: Nov 2010


Welcome to the board, but is this the correct forum for you? I hope not.

So far you haven't been diagnosis with prostate cancer yet. Surely the symptoms could imply such and you doing well in investigating what are causing urine retention. The MRI is great but you could have a simple CT to check local deformations. It wouldn't be as detailed as the MRI but could be sufficient to check the issues you describe above.

In fact, retention due to any squeeze of the urethra is usually related to hyperplasia (BPH) not cancer. BPH is also linked to an increased PSA, but the values of your tests are not that high to rule it in a 70 years old man. No doubts that the ultimate way to verify a cancer case is via a biopsy, and I would recommend you to do it as it will give you peace of mind. Multiparametric MRI and PET scans can provide a good judgment for the possibility in having cancer but it doesn't substitute the analysis of prostate specimen under the microscope by a pathologist.

I had several MRI at diagnosis and thereafter and never felt claustrophobia until one day when my wife accompanied me to the clinic. She is highly claustrophobic in small places and that made me to image what she would experience if inserted into a cylinder like the MRI. Suddenly I also felt strange and uncomfortable. My strategy since then was to have the MRI in open ended machines, where I can stretch deep in the cylinder keeping my arms up and head a little out in the back. I close my eyes when rolled in and use always two towels to cover the arms as it gets very cold in the MRI room.
Yes, I wonder about the clinic of your MRI as typically the room is kept at very low temperature to cold down the machine, but you say that you experienced high heat ("sweating like a pig").

Best wishes,


Posts: 309
Joined: Jan 2013

I've had a number of MRI's, but never without sedation, as I am claustrophobic, as well.  I am prescribed 2 Valium tablets, which I take 1/2 hour before entering the MRI, and I NEVER open my eyes, once I enter the chamber.  Using this protocol, I've never had an unpleasant experience in an MRI.

Posts: 712
Joined: Jun 2015


Try to find an open MRI, looks like a big fat donut instead of a tunnel.

Dave 3+4

Posts: 111
Joined: Jun 2017

Ditto the open MRI.  I find it quite manageable, despite claustrophobia.


Posts: 70
Joined: Nov 2017

Are 3T MRI's available in an open configuration?

VascodaGama's picture
Posts: 3427
Joined: Nov 2010

Here is a link to one of those Open ended 3T MRI;


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