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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23494. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023494. Epub 2011 Aug 22.

Reduction of claustrophobia with short-bore versus open magnetic resonance imaging: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Charité, Medical School, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



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.


ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00715806.

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