Is there a relationship between oxygen saturation and MRI-induced anxiety? A prospective study

Published:December 11, 2019DOI:


      • The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between oxygen saturation changes and anxiety during MRI examinations.
      • Spielberger State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was used to determine the degree of anxiety.
      • Lower oxygen saturation levels during MRI compared to pre- and post-MRI levels were found to be statistically significant.
      • The oxygen saturation decreased in almost all patients who undergo MRI, even if it is only slight.
      • No statistically significant relationship was detected between pre- and post-MRI STAI scores.
      • There was no significant correlation between saturation levels and STAI scores.



      To prospectively examine the possible relationship between oxygen saturation changes and anxiety during MRI examinations.

      Material and Methods

      One hundred and fifty randomly-selected patients referred to our department for MRI examination were included. Participants were asked to complete the Spielberger State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) to monitor subjective evaluation of anxiety. Both state (STAIs) and trait (STAIt) anxiety levels were recorded as pre-MRI scores. Following the inventory, oxygen saturation levels were measured before, during and immediately after an MRI scan. The patients completed the STAI again immediately following the procedure, and the post-MRI scores were recorded. The scan duration and examined body part were also noted.


      Ninty-one patients (60.7%) were female and 59 (39.3%) were male. Mean age was 43.68 ± 15.59 years. One hundred and thirty-one of them were head-first examinations, while 19 of them were foot-first, in reference to position on the table. Statistically significant relationships were found between pre- and mid-MRI oxygen saturation levels and mid- and post-MRI oxygen saturation levels. Additionally, mid-MRI saturation levels were significantly lower compared to pre- and post-MRI saturation levels (p = .001 for both measurements). The mean pre-MRI STAIs score was 35.6 ± 10.14, while the mean post-MRI score was 36.45 ± 9.92. The mean pre-MRI STAIt score was 44.01 ± 7.76, and post-MRI score was 44.39 ± 7.75 in the study group. There was no statistically significant relationship between pre- and post-MRI STAI scores. No significant correlation was found between oxygen saturation levels and STAI scores.


      To investigate a possible relationship between oxygen saturation changes during MRI examinations and MRI-induced anxiety, we designed a prospective study. We detected statistically significant lower oxygen saturation levels during the examination compared to pre- and post-MRI levels. However, no statistically significant relationship was found between the oxygen saturation decrease and pre- and post-MRI STAI scores.


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