Can my head stay out of the MRI for my hips?

I had my hips x-rayed due to a flare-up of pain and inflammation. The doctor is pretty comfortable with the diagnosis of bursitis of the more chronic kind (the anti-inflammatories are working very well), but the x-ray report mentioned the possibility of lesions, so he wants to have his butt firmly covered by sending me for a hip MRI. This seems like overkill to me, since I have some calcification in both hips, and especially since I am claustrophobic and the idea of sticking my upper body into a small, enclosed space for half an hour doesn’t appeal to me much.

So, anybody know the answer to the burning question, “Can I get my hips MRI’ed without sticking my head in the machine?” Can they just stick my legs in, which wouldn’t bother me nearly as much?

Maybe. I’ve seen only half in tube for leg things, but hips may be pushing it. The other alternative would be an open-air MRI, and you’d have to scout around to find a facility for that.

Meanwhile, call the place where your MRI is being done and ask if you can have your head out. At least then you’ll know how it’s going to be and not have so much anxiety.

I’ve had a bunch of MRIs, and I always fall asleep during them. They are really boring.

I had an MRI for my knee about 6 weeks ago in Calgary , and my leg from mid-thigh down was in the machine. I’m pretty sure your head would be out of the machine with a hip MRI, but do call ahead and ask. You can also ask your family doctor to give you a dose of Ativan to take shortly before the test, if you are claustrophobic. At the hospital, they gave me the choice of radio stations to listen to while doing the scan, which did give me something else to think about.

You might see if anyone around you has what’s called an “open MRI.” They’re designed in such a way that most claustrophobic folks aren’t bothered by them.

I just looked up a picture of an open MRI, and you’re right, Tuck, I would be a thousand times (approx.) more comfortable in that set-up. I know there is no physical danger in having my head and upper body jammed in an enclosed space for half an hour, but man, that does not sound like a good time to me AT ALL.

Am I missing a point? How can you get a MRI without going “head first”? And, why would you care? A few months ago I ended up hospitalized for acute renal failure. They ran all sorts of tests on me, over my objection I couldn’t pay. The resident just told me if I insisted on walking out the door without such tests, I could easily end up dead before I got home. My resonse was “If you say I have acute renal failure, and also a heart attack, go ahead.” I expected this hospital would just roll me out the door. Instead, they treated me with respect. The doctors even said they wanted to rush me to the ER and check out my heart, and even do an angioplasty if indicated. I declined.

I was shocked. I thought in the US, I’d just be pushed out the door if I ended up in the hospital. Instead, they just voluntarily offered to do an angioplasty on the spot. The cost of such must be astronomical. I had to stand on my legal rights to refuse such treatment, and walk out the door.

If the doc thinks this is a good idea to do this, maybe your should just say “OK”. I never even thought the docs who wanted to rush me to heart surgery even thought it was medically unwise. I just couldn’t believe they’d want to eat the bill. (This was a teaching hospital, and may have made a difference. When the tests said I had a heart attack, a resident who just tried to push me out the door could have been in big trouble if I dropped dead.)

featherlou is claustrophobic. I know many read that as “doesn’t like small spaces”, but it’s way, way worse than that. People have panic attacks, complete with screaming and even fainting. It’s a huge deal. The inside of an MRI tube is very small.

That’s the first point. The second point is that I don’t think this MRI is actually needed. The doctor is covering his ass because the doctor who read my X-Ray indicated there was a possibility of a lesion (in both hips? Not too likely.) so this MRI is an ass-covering rule-out.

Oh, and from the research I’ve done, it looks like you get stuck in feet first if you’re getting feet or legs done. I don’t see why they can’t stick me in feet first for the hip since I am really not thrilled by the idea of having my upper body stuck in, and it seems like your hip is basically equidistant from either end.

There are ways, because if I have to have future MRIs (quite possible) and they shove me in there headfirst I will FREAK OUT. They’re waaaaay too small. That’s why it matters if you’re at all claustrophobic. If there’s no option other than the tube kind, I want serious drugs first. No joke. Seeerious ones.

I wasn’t terribly happy with an open MRI, but it was better.

I’ll check with some MRI techs around here about it and get back to you. Logically, I can’t think of a problem with it, but who am I to say? I like being in the MRI machine. It’s like a mandatory nap time for me in the middle of my workday, not to mention it pays well too.

That would be appreciated, audiobottle. From what I’m experiencing of the staff at the clinic making my appointment for me (see my Pit thread if you like), I wouldn’t be surprised if they went out of their way to find the smallest, slowest MRI machine in town, knowing I’m claustrophobic.


In many (most or all?) U.S. states, it is illegal to turn away a patient in need just because they profess they cannot pay the bill. This goes double for immediate emergency care.

It’s highly likely that they wouldn’t eat the bill, anyway – it would be covered by tax dollars. Further, my understanding is that even high-dolllar private hospitals can get substantial tax breaks from “uncollectable” bills.

There is actually a level of socialized medicine in the U.S., though it’s almost never mentioned in debate. There are many reasons more people don’t just go in droves to the free clinics and state-run teaching hospitals – I’ll leave it for someone else, perhaps in another thread, to outline those reasons.

Where are you from, BTW?


Okay, I just talked to one of our techs here, and she said that normally they’d do people feet first. She said that she wasn’t really sure you could even do it head first due to the coil placement and some other technical things I didn’t understand. I asked if that was just here at Duke Hospital, and she said that she’d think it’d be like that everywhere. So I’d definitely ask to go in feet first, particularly since it’d make you more comfortable, thus making you less likely to move, thus making the scan better for everyone involved (most importantly you of course).

And just to address rfgdxm’s question about why you wouldn’t do an MRI head first - plenty of reasons. An obvious one would be that if you wanted to scan your knee (like I had when I tore my ACL), if you go head first they have to stick you in pretty far to get to the knee. MRI is not just for brain or heart scanning.

No, as we’re learning from “House”, MRI’s are used for damned near everything. :smiley:

Thanks for the info, audiobottle. That does set my mind at ease.

featherlou, not to rain on your parade, but you should definitely ask your own clinic about their policy before finalizing anything. It’s been my experience that certain members of the medical profession (and I count many members of the medical profession among my friends and family, so it isn’t a personal thing) have little patience with patients who have medical phobias. Especially given the overall crabbiness of the employees there, you might make your appointment and then on the day of, happen to get a tech with attitude who says you have to go in head first just to be contrary and because he thinks you should “suck it up.” If you’ve already talked to someone at the clinic, a superior maybe, who said you could have it feet-first, you’d be better able to argue with the person than “but audiobottle reassured me!”

Good luck. I hope it works out for you.

I had an MRI done for my hips back in 2K. I had heard that they do it head first.
I too am semi clausterphobic.
sooo I asked to be put in feet first. Which they did.
But first I asked for a seditive.
Another trick was I asked for my socks to be taken off.
A fan blew cool air over me the entire time. I could feel the air on my feet.
I just kept picturing myself lieing somewhere outside with a cool breeze blowing across me.
I had another MRI done recently. It was the open air type. Piece of cake.

My uncle sells Open MRI machines. That’s all the technical knowledge I’ve got, though.

Anecdotally, my mother and father have both had MRI scans, (dad on feet, knees and back, mom on head and back). They are LOUD.

I work at a hospital. A midsized hospital in a city of with a population of
about 53,000. But smack in the middle of the suburbs for NYC.

We have both types of MRI, Open and closed. We generally use the open for all
MRI requests first, for the patients comfort. The closed is used if an especially detailed scan is needed. IIRC, brain scans need the close MRI.

I also needed an MRI of my abdomen, scanning my intestines. Perffed Diverticulum from Diverticulitus (not going to explain here). They sent me to the open MRI, feet first and
from my nipples up, I was in open air.

But yea, call and ask!

rfgdxm In the US, if you goto the ER, hospitals cannot turn you away, Period.
If you need immediate surgery. They must do it. If not they get you well enough
To go home. This is one of the many reasons for the high cost of medical care in
the US. They will bill you for the ER visit, or hospital stay if you had to be admitted,
if you don’t have insurance.

But, you can’t get blood from a stone. The hospitals have wised up. When
I was admitted to the hospital for the above reasons I had no Medical Insurance.
The next day a hospital employee (this was her sole job) came to room and bedside
to pleasantly solve my no insurance problem. This is when I learned about
Emergency Medicaid. Basically short term Medicaid, fixed number of months on it.
Hospital has to take what they pay, small amount of what they are asking for.
But you don’t owe anything. The hospital helps you with this because then
at least they get something instead of eating the whole bill and your credit is saved!

I did not work at the hospital when all this happened, that’s why I had no insurance.
But truly, everyone was so nice, caring, friendly and helpful with both my medical and
financial needs … a great team. Kindest people in the world … is why I now work
there. And it is the best job I’ve ever had!