SUMAYYA
08 October 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
valium-for-mri
Table of Contents

Many people feel Anxiety just at the thought of having an MRI scan. Many are scared of entering the examination room. If you are one of such people, you are not alone. 

We believe that every patient can have a comfortable and successful examination with little if any, stress. This blog is intended to help you cope with the feeling before making it through the MRI. Between 1% and 15% of claustrophobic patients must receive sedation before MRI or forego the scan altogether. Common medicines prescribed for Anxiety are typically inadequate for an MRI scan and could leave you unprepared to have the examination.

This blog focuses on one of the tranquilizer drugs, Valium. Continue reading to know if Valium works for MRI. 

What is Valium?

Valium (Diazepam) is a member of the group of benzodiazepine tranquilizers. It exerts anxiolytic, sedative, muscle relaxant, antidepressant, and anticonvulsant effects. 

Valium reaches peak plasma concentration within 30 to 90 minutes after oral intake. Diazepam is classified Schedule IV drug because of its potential for Abuse.

Uses of Valium

  • Valium helps to treat the symptoms of agitation, Anxiety, and tension brought on by psychoneurotic conditions and transient situational disruptions.
  • Useful as an adjunct in major mental and organic disorders.
  • Used to combat spasticity from damage to the spinal cord and supraspinal interneurons such as cerebral palsy and paraplegia.
  • Valium is used for muscle spasms due to local trauma.
  • Other off-label uses include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sedation in the ICU, and acute delirium tremens in acute alcohol withdrawal.

How Does Valium Work?

Valium facilitates the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.

The anticonvulsant and sedative properties of benzodiazepines may result from a direct agonist effect on stereospecific benzodiazepine receptors. This, in turn, facilitates the inhibitory action of GABA on its postsynaptic receptors. The anxiolytic properties of benzodiazepines are due to the increased inhibitory nerve transmission. 

What is MRI?

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique is a non-invasive imaging technology used to examine the anatomy and function of the body in health and disease without exposing the patient to harmful ionizing radiation.

It helps in disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment monitoring. The basis of MRI is a highly advanced technique that excites and monitors changes in protons contained in the water that makes up living tissues.

Why Is Valium Prescribed For MRI?

MRI causes a significant proportion of anxiety-related symptoms while having excellent diagnostic performance. Between 1% and 15% of claustrophobic patients must receive sedation before MRI or forego the scan altogether.

Claustrophobia is the intense fear of confined or enclosed spaces. While MRI is a painless procedure, many patients find it tolerable, but it can be uncomfortable for some due to the requirement to stay still in a small area for an extended period.

People who struggle with severe Anxiety, or claustrophobia, may find it challenging to complete an MRI. Doctors frequently prescribe Valium to patients through MRI because the information obtained with this technique can be valuable in detecting problems and guiding therapy.

If any person panics during the MRI scan, there is a chance that the MRI machine will catch fire.
Depending on the level of Anxiety a patient experiences, oral benzodiazepines or IV conscious sedation may be prescribed.
After the administration of Diazepam, you may feel better within a few hours. However, it might take a week or more for some individuals to feel the full effects.

Is Valium Effective For MRI?

Radiologists frequently employ a mild sedative to facilitate successful MRI scanning daily. In clinical settings, patients scheduled for MRIs may experience worry or Anxiety, sometimes to the point where it is challenging or impossible for them to undergo the investigation. As a result, patients may occasionally receive Valium to relieve their discomfort. 

The PO Valium recommended for adults is between 2 to 10 mg for Anxiety. The dosage of Valium often depends on the medical history, clinical condition, and level of Anxiety of the individual patient.

How Does Valium Work In MRI?

Diazepam is frequently administered to a patient before an MRI. Patients who struggle with Anxiety, claustrophobia or a condition that makes them physically uncomfortable are given Valium during an MRI.

 

Valium appears to work by enhancing the effects of GABA-enhancing neurotransmitters on inhibiting neuronal activity.

Assessing overall health, age, body type, and history of current or past benzodiazepine use of a patient is more crucial. The general rule in such a scenario is to utilize the lowest dosage feasible to produce the desired sedative.

Dose for Sedation: 

Onset (minutes)

Usual Starting Dose

Maximum Age-Based Dosing

Age:

≥60 yrs

18-59 yrs

≥60 yrs

18-59 yrs

Oral: 15

Intravenous: 2 to 5

2 mg

5 mg

≤5 mg

≤10 mg

Studies Related To Valium Use In MRI

According to laboratory research, diazepam (5 to 20 mg dose) can significantly lower performance, including divided intention, reaction speed, eye-hand coordination, alertness, information retrieval, and psychomotor and cognitive abilities. As a result, patients may occasionally receive benzodiazepines to relieve their discomfort.

From March 2012 to December 2013, 131 fetal MRI scans were examined. Nineteen of the instances had procedures done after Valium administration. Low-dose Valium administration did not affect fetal movements on an MRI. Except when correcting for altitude and gestational age in the supine position, Valium did not provide any risk of maternal hypoxemia. 

 

Other Sedatives Are Batter Then Valium For MRI

Oral Benzodiazepines

Consult your doctor about your alternatives if you experience claustrophobia or excessive levels of Anxiety. Your doctor might recommend a benzodiazepine like Xanax, Ativan, or Valium for mild Anxiety. 

You must refrain from operating a motor vehicle and make plans for a safe transport home if you receive one of these or any other sedative to assist you with the procedure.

Ensure you use benzodiazepines as prescribed by your doctor, as abusing them might result in physical dependence. Common side effects of oral benzodiazepines are dizziness, weakness, drowsiness, and loss of equilibrium. Some patients experience headaches, aggression, confusion, and sleep disturbances.

IV Sedation

If you have severe claustrophobia-related symptoms, your doctor may recommend intravenous sedation. Some people might need strong medicine to get over the Anxiety they encounter during an MRI and finish the procedure. 

Fentanyl and Versed are frequently combined to ease pain, promote relaxation, and lessen a patient's memory of the treatment. Versed is also known generically as midazolam. Fentanyl is an opioid (narcotic) that reduces pain, while Versed is a benzodiazepine that induces relaxation, forgetfulness, and sleepiness.

For the safety of these medications, you must undergo a physical examination and medical history 30 days before your MRI. Ensure that you disclose the list of all your current drugs and health issues to your doctor.

Versed (Midazolam): Avoid Versed if you have narrow-angle glaucoma or any allergic reaction to benzodiazepines. Avoid drinking alcohol for the rest of the day after taking Versed because it can intensify its effects. Avoid the drug if you are pregnant. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact negatively with this medication.

Fentanyl: Many medications, especially those that cause drowsiness or inhibit respiration, might cause hazardous effects after receiving Fentanyl. So, discuss your medications, including vitamins, over-the-counter remedies, and herbal supplements, with your doctor.

Risks Associated with MRI Sedation

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Drowsiness, increased reaction time
  • Ataxia
  • Motor incoordination
  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solution

Patients scheduled for MRIs may experience worry or anxiety, which makes it challenging to perform an examination. The anesthesiologist will need your signed consent for sedation after your pre-sedation evaluation. It is crucial to understand sedation safety profiles to proactively change techniques by using complementary strategies that may eventually improve patient care by allowing safer operations and better workflows.

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  • Meyers ML, Mirsky DM, Dannull KA, Tong S, Crombleholme TM. Effects of Maternal Valium Administration on Fetal MRI Motion Artifact: A Comparison Study at High Altitude. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2017;42(2):124-129. doi: 10.1159/000450978. Epub 2016 Nov 1. PMID: 27798935. Obtain On 03/11/2022
  • Ragnehed M, Håkansson I, Nilsson M, Lundberg P, Söderfeldt B, Engström M. Influence of diazepam on clinically designed FMRI. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2007 Spring;19(2):164-72. doi: 10.1176/jnp.2007.19.2.164. PMID: 17431063. Obtain On 03/11/2022
  • Meyers ML, Mirsky DM, Dannull KA, Tong S, Crombleholme TM. Effects of Maternal Valium Administration on Fetal MRI Motion Artifact: A Comparison Study at High Altitude. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2017;42(2):124-129. doi: 10.1159/000450978. Epub 2016 Nov 1. PMID: 27798935. Obtain On 03/11/2022
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