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Putting Patients at Ease for MRI and CT Scans

There are things a radiologist can do in order to ease the patient’s stress of the impending MRI or CT scan

Medical imaging including MRI and CT scans are a scary thought for a good reason – most of the machines are large and looming, and most have a small hole in the center to fit the patient’s body (unless they are an Open MRI machine, which can be a bit less intimidating for patients.) The idea of having your body scanned through the hold of a giant donut certainly isn’t a comforting one. The good news is that there are things the radiologist can do in order to ease the stress of the impending MRI or CT scan. Here are some of the best techniques you can use to calm your patients before the big scan.

Create a professional friendship.

If you can interact, laugh, and talk with your patients as if they were a long time friend, it will automatically make the patient feel better about the MRI or CT scan to come. Talking with strangers is anxiety inducing for some as it is – lightening up the atmosphere with your quick wit and doctor jokes can immediately help.

Answer their questions before they even ask them.

Let them know the answers to the questions patients wonder about the most when it comes to an MRI or CT scan. What safety procedures will be needed? Will it hurt? Is there any radiation? How long will this take? Can I have someone in the room with me?

Give them some earphones with music to listen to.

Anyone who is in a bad mood knows how much music helps. Music has been proven to lighten spirits and take the mind off of the moment at hand.

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Help the patient onto the table and make them as comfortable as possible.

Checking on patients in between scans to make sure they feel okay is also helpful.

Let the patient know a mild sedative is available.

Inform your patient that if things become too overwhelming, a mild sedative is always available. Having this option is often enough to calm them.

Consider implementing professional tools designed to enhance your patient’s scanning experience.

Philips has an incredibly useful tool when it comes to easing patient anxieties, and its called the Ambient Experience environment. The environment implements technology in the form of dynamic lighting, projection, and sound, and is able to create better workflow and alleviate stress and anxiety in patients. Philips also has a solution for children called the KittenScanner, which is a small scale replica of a CT scanner and helps kids combat fear by letting them scan the “insides” of toys and learn about the scanning procedure in the process. By creating a clutter-free, inviting space for your staff and patients, you can focus on the scanning itself and leave your worries at the door.

Remember, it has been proven that a patient’s mood can directly affect the results of their MRI and CT scans, so hopefully the above techniques help you comfort your patients before theirs. On our sister blog for Clermont Radiology, we also wrote a helpful blog post a while back on relaxation ideas that patients can try at home, which you can find here; so you can share that with them as well. With the combined efforts of both the patient and the radiologist, the MRI or CT scan procedure should run as smoothly as possible.


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