Don’t Like MRIs? Try a Dog, Not a Valium

Getting an MRI can be a claustrophobic, anxiety-provoking procedure for some people. About 15 percent of patients just can't go through with it, at least...

Maria Goodavage  |  May 2nd 2011


Getting an MRI can be a claustrophobic, anxiety-provoking procedure for some people. About 15 percent of patients just can’t go through with it, at least without pharmaceutical relaxants. Others try, but squirm around to the point where the image quality is unusable.

Enter man’s best friend. A recent study by the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ, showed that patients who spent time with a certified therapy dog before their MRI had less anxiety and were better able to get through the procedure.

“The most significant aspect of our findings was the fact that time spent with a dog (animal-assisted therapy) could substitute for pharmacologic anxiolysis (anti-anxiety medication) often needed to assist patients having an MRI,” said Richard Ruchman, M.D., one of the authors of the study.

The study was relatively small, but paves the way for more research. “I believe that many applications of this could flow from our findings,” said Dr. Ruchman.

Hmm, 15 minutes with a dog, or an anti-anxiety pill that’ll make you groggy all day? Give me a prescription for the pooch, please! How about you, Dogsters?

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