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Reduction of Claustrophobia with Short-Bore versus Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Published: Monday, August 22, 2011
Author: Judith Enders et al.

by Judith Enders, Elke Zimmermann, Matthias Rief, Peter Martus, Randolf Klingebiel, Patrick Asbach, Christian Klessen, Gerd Diederichs, Moritz Wagner, Ulf Teichgräber, Thomas Bengner, Bernd Hamm, Marc Dewey


Claustrophobia is a common problem precluding MR imaging. The purpose of the present study was to assess whether a short-bore or an open magnetic resonance (MR) scanner is superior in alleviating claustrophobia.


Institutional review board approval and patient informed consent were obtained to compare short-bore versus open MR. From June 2008 to August 2009, 174 patients (139 women; mean age?=?53.1 [SD 12.8]) with an overall mean score of 2.4 (SD 0.7, range 0 to 4) on the Claustrophobia Questionnaire (CLQ) and a clinical indication for imaging, were randomly assigned to receive evaluation by open or by short-bore MR. The primary outcomes were incomplete MR examinations due to a claustrophobic event. Follow-up was conducted 7 months after MR imaging. The primary analysis was performed according to the intention-to-treat strategy.


With 33 claustrophobic events in the short-bore group (39% [95% confidence interval [CI] 28% to 50%) versus 23 in the open scanner group (26% [95% CI 18% to 37%]; P?=?0.08) the difference was not significant. Patients with an event were in the examination room for 3.8 min (SD 4.4) in the short-bore and for 8.5 min (SD 7) in the open group (P?=?0.004). This was due to an earlier occurrence of events in the short-bore group. The CLQ suffocation subscale was significantly associated with the occurrence of claustrophobic events (P?=?0.003). New findings that explained symptoms were found in 69% of MR examinations and led to changes in medical treatment in 47% and surgery in 10% of patients. After 7 months, perceived claustrophobia increased in 32% of patients with events versus in only 11% of patients without events (P?=?0.004).


Even recent MR cannot prevent claustrophobia suggesting that further developments to create a more patient-centered MR scanner environment are needed.

Trial Registration NCT00715806