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CT Scan and Claustrophobia: What You Should Know

What You Should Know

If getting a CT scan, also known as a Computed tomography scan, makes you nervous, don’t worry, you are not alone. Having a CT scan should not be scary.  However, having anxiety about being claustrophobic could make you nervous about having a CT scan. 

Fortunately, CT scan machines are open, not closed, and that may help make you feel more at ease about things. Let’s get down to a few details about CT scans, and what you can expect when having one.

Is a CT Scan Open or Closed?

When claustrophobic people are told to go for a CT scan they often envision themselves trapped in huge machines. Could that be true? Most often than not, the problem is that people fail to differentiate between a CT scan and an MRI scan.  CT scanners are different from MRI scanners and use very little x-ray radiation, unlike MRI scanners. 

CT scanners are open on both sides, and you can completely see around yourself during a scan. Claustrophobic patients might welcome CT scans more because they don’t have to be in an enclosed space. For a CT scan procedure, all you need to do is lay down and relax as you’re moved between a doughnut-shaped structure referred to as a “gantry.” A CT scan feels like lying between two ends of a big circle. There are no enclosed spaces at all.

Can You Feel Claustrophobic During a CT Scan?

CT scans can cause claustrophobia symptoms before the scan. Symptoms can also persist even after the procedure, whether or not the patient has undergone such a procedure before. Claustrophobia is a form of anxiety, so conditions that limit mobility or constrain an individual to a small area cause severe distress. 

How to Manage Claustrophobia During a CT Scan

There are several approaches to dealing with claustrophobia during scans. Fully understanding what to look for can enable you or a loved one to identify the early symptoms of claustrophobia.

Among the most common claustrophobia, symptoms are irrational fear, dizziness, sweating, chills, high blood pressure, and nausea. There are also other symptoms like an increased heartbeat. 

Thankfully, there are methods for reducing these behavioral and physiological side effects. Let’s look at some activities that can help you manage claustrophobia before and during a CT scan.

Before: Keeping yourself busy in the days leading to your CT scan will take your mind off the scan or the scan results. To relax your mind and body, consider trying certain activities such as:

  • Talking to your doctor 
  • Going on a long walk
  • Watching a familiar movie or TV show
  • Talking to someone you trust
  • Reading a book
  • Cooking your favorite recipe

Doing familiar things will help you be more mentally prepared for your CT scan. 

During: Here are some things you can do that’ll help you relax as you’re getting scanned beneath the gantry:

  • Close your eyes
  • Perform breathing exercises
  • Countdown from 50
  • Work on math problems

We hope one or all of this helps you manage your claustrophobia during a CT scan. If you have claustrophobia, talk to the doctors at Premier Imaging before the procedure. Not only is it our job to make you feel comfortable during this time, but we can offer other suggestions to help you get through this.