Claustrophobic? Try an upright MRI if anxious with standard MRI scanning machines

2 minutes, 32 seconds Read

Three weeks ago, someone rolled onto my knee while playing basketball. The momentum of his body forcing my knee in a direction it naturally doesn’t go and I felt something in my knee move (something that shouldn’t be moving).

That night I felt some extreme pain and had trouble walking the next couple days. I waited a few days to see how I would feel. My knee was felt better but there were sharp pains when I moved in certain directions. My doctor recommended that I have an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) exam done to see how severe the knee damage was.


Now I am not deathly-afraid of MRIs, but I definitely wasn’t looking forward to having my body slid into a tight-fitting, human-sized pipe.

I won’t cry, but I won’t be smiling either.

Stand Up MRI: An alternative for those that are claustrophobic

The next day I was walking home and noticed a storefront that said “Stand Up MRI”, on Avenue A and East 12th street; just a couple blocks away from my house in Alphabet City.

I walked in and the girl at the front desk handed me a brochure explaining the difference between a “stand up MRI” and a traditional one. With a Stand Up MRI, also known as an “upright MRI”, the scan is done with a front-open design, so you’re not entirely enclosed and moved into a tube-like machine as you are scanned.


Again, my heart rate would definitely raise, but I would be able to do it. However, if a more-open option was available, why not take it? If you get a little anxious in tight spaces or freak out at the idea of enclosed spaces, this is a good alternative to the standard MRI procedure if it’s available to you.

MRI claustrophobia

How an upright MRI works

Instead of laying down like you’re in a coffin and slowly inserted into a machine, you start out standing up and the machine angles you so the scan can be done. You’re not staring up at the insides of a MRI machine, but looking forward at the wall or looking up at the room’s ceiling.


The Stand Up MRI brochure says you can watch a big-screen television while you’re getting scanned, but when I got my MRI, the TV was too far for me to pay attention to. The procedure was painless; they gave me earplugs for the noise and angled me in a way that I was almost vertical. I don’t remember exactly how long the scan went for, but it was relaxed enough that I fell asleep. After look at my mobile afterwards, I would say it lasted approximately 30-40 minutes.

The upright MRI is a great option if you’re slightly distressed by MRI machines — you’re not running and skipping in an open field of daisies, the machine does hug you, but it doesn’t involve being treated like a cadaver in the morgue.

I’d do it again, just not with Stand Up MRI (review forthcoming).


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