121106 -- Anesthesia Helps Nervous Patients Undergoing MRI Test

 Park Ridge, Ill.

For Immediate Release
December 11, 2006
 For more information
Contact Marlene McDowell

Anesthesia Helps Nervous Patients Undergoing MRI Test

Apprehensive patients who previously might not have been willing to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test can now rest easier knowing anesthesia is an option to calm their nerves, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).
MRI is a diagnostic technique that uses a large, powerful magnet to create paper-thin sectional images of any part of the body—including the heart, arteries, and veins—from any angle and direction without surgical invasion. The drawback is that these procedures, while painless, require patients to be immobile for 20 minutes to well over an hour, often in a close space.
A traditional, or closed, MRI machine is not to be confused with an open MRI machine. Open MRI takes place in a cylinder that is rounded on the top and bottom and open along the sides. An open MRI machine can accommodate people who weigh up to 500 pounds. By contrast, in a closed MRI machine the patient lays in a tube that is open at one end only. These machines cannot accommodate anyone heavier than 350 pounds. According to research, about one in four people cannot tolerate being in closed MRI machines because they suffer from claustrophobia, and therefore require some form of anesthesia to help them through the experience.
To help alleviate patient concerns about MRI through information and education, the Council for Public Interest in Anesthesia, a forum used by AANA to promote patient quality care and practitioner wellness, has published a new brochure titled, Magnetic Resonance Imaging: What You Should Know About MRI. The brochure answers commonly asked questions about MRI, and the use of anesthesia for the procedure. To obtain a free copy of the brochure, contact the AANA Bookstore and Product Fulfillment Department by calling (847) 655-1116 or via email at bookstore@aana.com.
Healthcare professionals attribute the increased use of MRI to technical advances in diagnostic imaging and the aggressive pursuit of minimally invasive techniques. Patients who may need anesthesia care during an MRI test include children, people who suffer from claustrophobia, psychiatric patients, and the critically ill. More often than not, the anesthesia provider who keeps patients safe and comfortable throughout MRI tests is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). A CRNA’s involvement may be necessary for a number of reasons, such as dealing with a patient’s inability to lie perfectly still or monitoring a patient’s vital signs such as breathing and heartrate.
"Administering anesthesia to a patient undergoing an MRI procedure allows the machine to take the best possible images free from any complications caused by the individual moving about," said Sandra Tunajek, CRNA, DNP, director of the Council for Public Interest in Anesthesia. "It is also the responsibility of the anesthetist to ensure that the patient has a safe and comfortable anesthetic experience, and leaves the facility with positive feelings about the MRI test."
About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists