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Open Access Case report

3T MRI induced post-traumatic stress disorder: a case report

Shaheen E Lakhan

Author Affiliations

Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave, S100A, Cleveland, OH, 44106, USA

International Archives of Medicine 2012, 5:27  doi:10.1186/1755-7682-5-27

Published: 10 October 2012

Abstract

Introduction

MRI is considered a safe and well tolerated imaging technique with risks largely limited to heating and/or displacement of implanted ferromagnetic metal in the patient’s body, worsening anxiety, triggering claustrophobia, and gadolinium induced nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.

Case presentation

We present a case of a 26 year old Asian American man with no significant past medical or psychiatric history and two months of left T4 radicular pain. During 3T-MRI of the whole spine, the patient experienced acute agitation, fear, anxiety, tachypnea, tachycardia with palpitations, and dizziness. He felt intense surface heat over segments of his body and very loud noises. He perceived impending serious bodily harm by the scanner. The scan was aborted at the lumbar spine, and cervical and thoracic spine was unremarkable. The patient’s pain resolved in the weeks following with over the counter analgesics, however, he developed increased arousal, re-experiencing the event, persistent avoidance, and significant psychosocial impairment consistent with DSM-IV-TR criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Conclusion

This is the first reported case of MRI induced PTSD. Theoretically, the high-magnetic field of the 3T scanner may have contributed to the development of symptoms.

Keywords:
PTSD; MRI; Imaging; Anxiety; Stress