MRI Panic Attack!

Hi Girls

I’m sure non of you is as wimpy as me, but I went for my first MRI breast today and had a panic attack! When I first went into the tunnel I was OK but then started to get really cold hands and faster breathing etc. Had to press the button to be got out.

Now I feel like a complete failure as I wanted the MRI as I had Lobular in the other breast. Has anyone had sedation with it? Did it help? or did you have another type of scan but not a mammogram?

I would love to hear from someone who has managed to conquer this and get it done!!

best wishes, Grace

Can you have someone go in with you? If you ask that shouldn’t be a problem with the staff.Just ask before so they know to check the safety with the person.
Its very hard lying on your tummy as you feel out of control ,but remember you always have the button.
Did they get any images at all? Did they suggest trying again on another day with a little sedation?
You will be able to get something from your GP to take if you think that might help.Diazepam or something.
Please don’t think you are a failure as MRI is something that can freak many people.I try and think well at least its not an operation or any other nasty investigations they can do to you in hospital,I am thinking enemas etc! But its is scary for many people.The radiographers should be understanding.
I hope you get another chance,but please don’t fret about it,you will just upset yourself.

I kept my eyes tight shut all the time during my whole-body MRI, I’m sure I would have gone into mega-panic mode otherwise!

Do try not to feel bad about it (easier said than done).

I don’t have lobular bc but just wondering, could you have ultrasound or core biopsy instead?

As someone who used to suffer from panic attacks when in enclosed spaces, I can totally sympathesize with you. They are the most scary thing and the more you try to stop them, the worse it becomes. I used to get them in lifts, on the tube, in a plane etc etc. I dont get them anymore because I have learned to distract myself and concentrate on my breathing whenever in that situation - and I was fine having a ct scan. Like Dotchas suggests, take someone in with you who is calming and get them to talk you through it. I am sure there are many many people who have freaked with an MRI scan, so the radiographers will be used to it and may give you something to calm you down before hand. Don’t let it put you off - you can do it! Counsellors are brilliant at teaching you how to cope and conquer panic attacks if it becomes a problem

Good luck



There is a private clinic in London where you can have a MRI scan standing up or sitting in a chair (depending on which part of body being scanned) and you are not enclosed AT ALL. It’s quite new and I don’t know how much it costs, but the doctors set it up because thousands of people cannot have conventional MRIs because of fear of enclosed spaces. They say they haven’t had a failure yet.


I totally feel, for you have had similar feelings myself. My solution is to tell the oncologist about it and get him to give me a prescription for ativan to take 30 mins before scan. During one of my scans it worked so well I fell asleep apparently.



I had an MRI in July, well I’m saying I had one, I had a panic attack and had to get out, I tried a total of 3 times to go in the tunnel and I just couldn’t do it, so don’t you feel bad. I have since had another consultation with my doctor and they have referred me to a private clinic for an Open MRI, the NHS are paying for this so maybe this is something you could request too. Give it a go, even the thought of going in that tunnel freaks me out !!! As for sedation, they do for children but are lmore reluctant to do it on adults, I do not know why but that is what my doctor told me, maybe different Trusts have different policies. Where are you Grace? I live near Newcastle and I do know about the MRI scanner in London too.

Take care and good luck

Claire x

I know what you mean, my MRI scan took about 25 minutes and I hated it, I shut my eyes and tried to imagine I was somewhere else, didn’t work very well though. It was very noisy despite being given headphones, every now and again a voice would ask if I was OK, I just kept asking how much longer. If I had to have another I would certainly ask if I could have some kind of sedative.

Looking at the tunnel from the outside it doesn’t look to bad but from the inside well that’s another story.

Best of luck.


Thank you so much for all your kind and helpful comments. I will investigate the London clinic because I live in Hertfordshire (although moving to Suffolk in two weeks!) and thats not too far to go. I would go anywhere to get either an Open MRI or I have seen that there are Short Bore machines which are only half as long and a little bit wider.

I am now quite afraid of having another go - I really admire all of you who have to be in the tunnel for up to an hour!

best wishes, Grace