I’d rather have an MRI.
OK, it doesn’t have the same ring as the traditional punch line, but for many patients the fear of being slipped in a scanner surrounded by the clicking and banging sounds of an MRI ranks right up there with a root canal.
Rather than sedating these patients, a radiology group in France has been offering hypnosis on a daily basis since 2004.
Over a 15-month period, 45 patients were identified as being claustrophobic and refused the scheduled MRI, including four patients who experienced a panic attack.
All 41 patients who agreed to undergo a brief 3- to 5-minute single session of hypnosis just before the MRI completed the exam, including those with panic attacks.
Conversely, none of the four patients who refused hypnosis were able to withstand the procedure, radiologist and co-author Dr. Bruno Suarez reported at the Radiological Society of North America meeting.
“The more a patient is claustrophobic, the more hypnosis is efficient,” Dr. Suarez, with L’Hôpital Privé de Thiais in the outskirts of Paris, said in an interview. “For us it’s a surprise. It’s a very interesting technique.”
During hypnosis, the brain is more susceptible to suggestions, Dr. Suarez said, noting that a Belgian study showed that hypnosis reduces the perception of pain by 50%.
Hypnosis requires a good memory and language skills, so it’s not used on those under five years of age or those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, he added.
So far, a radiologist, two MRI technicians and even the two office receptionists have been trained in the technique.
“I like the contact with the patient, and I want the best results for the patient,” MR technician and co-author Marc Andre Fontaine said in an interview.
The 45 patients in the series represent just 1.4% of the roughly 3,300 patients seen by the group over the 15 months, but the appeal of the drug-free method has attracted referrals from other centers. It’s also a big financial boon due to shorter exam times, fewer appointment cancellations and no procedural side effects, Dr. Suarez said.
A recent study by interventional radiologist and hypno-analgesia pioneer Dr. Elvira Lang reported that self-hypnotic relaxation added an extra 58 minutes to the room time for an outpatient radiologic procedure, but still saved $338 per case compared with standard IV conscious sedation.
That’s a big savings for just getting patients to relax with a few words, especially when you consider that nine out of ten patients are probably already muttering something under their breath during their MRI.
Images by Patrice Wendling/Elsevier Global Medical News