MRI Cost

The Cost of an MRI

Last Updated on March 13, 2022
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, called, for short, MRI, is a high-performance and modern investigation that provides accurate information compared to other traditional investigations. This is an advanced imaging technique that uses a very strong magnetic field to be able to “see” inside the body. The MRI technique does not involve the use of harmful radiation or any radiation at all. So far there is no evidence that magnetic resonance imaging could have harmful effects on the body.

How Much Does an MRI Cost?

In most cases, the costs of MRIs are covered by the health insurance companies if they are deemed medically necessary.  If you meet the deductible requirements, you will have to copay $25 to $110 out of your pocket for the procedure and the doctor’s visit.

Magnetic resonance imaging can examine any part of the body. Most often, doctors recommend MRIs to check the following areas:

  • Brain MRI is done in case of signs of stroke or tumors or to monitor diseases such as multiple sclerosis. It is often recommended for symptoms such as severe headaches, seizures, weakness, hearing loss, etc. Depending on whether it is performed at a physician’s office or in a hospital, and on the complexity of the problem, the costs would be anywhere between $1,100 and $5,600, or even more.
  • The spine is very well-investigated by MRI, this method giving very accurate information about the intervertebral discs, spinal nerves, the integrity of the vertebral bodies, ligaments, and meninges. Also, in pathological cases, this method characterizes the changes produced and their extension very well, being a very useful tool for neurosurgeons, neurologists, and people working in neuromotor recovery. Depending on the place this procedure is done, either at a physician’s office or in a hospital and on the part of the spine being scanned, expect to pay anywhere between $1,100 and $5,100 for it.
  • Cardiac MRI evaluates in detail the morphology and functionality of the heart. Depending on the complexity of the investigated condition, the costs are $1,100 to $5,100, including the doctor’s fee that is anywhere between $110 and $210.
  • Pelvic MRI provides valuable information about the abdominal organs, especially the parenchymal ones, glands, blood vessels, abdominal lymph nodes. Again, depending on the complexity of the investigated condition and the place where it is performed, a hospital or a doctor’s office, the costs are anywhere between $1,100 and $5,100.
  • During the upright MRI, the patient is scanned while sitting or standing and it can help to diagnose certain conditions. The costs depend on the parts of the body being examined and these can be anywhere between $1,100 and $5,100.

Compared to an enclosed MRI, the open MRI is wider and it is recommended to claustrophobic and obese patients, and also to the patients who have their joints examined. Depending on the parts of the body being examined, the costs are anywhere between $1,100 and $5,100.

MRI details

During an MRI scan, the patient is inside the magnetic tube. Some patients may have a feeling of claustrophobia during the procedure. Therefore, patients with a history of claustrophobia should specify this. A mild sedative can be given before starting the procedure to reduce the feeling of anxiety and bring some relaxation. Relaxation is important during the procedure as patients are asked to breathe normally. Medical personnel is always nearby throughout the procedure. In addition, there is usually a means of communication with the staff (such as a bell held by the patient), which can be used for contact, if the patient cannot tolerate the state of claustrophobia.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a HIDA scan, a Pelvic ultrasound, or an MRCP test.

The duration of an MRI scan depends on the area of the body that is being studied and can last from 20 minutes (for a spline segment) to an hour (abdomen investigation).

After the MRI scan is complete, the computer generates visual images of the area of the body that has been scanned. A selection of these images will be printed on radiological film. All purchased images will be written on a CD. The result of the investigation is released by the imaging radiologist who elaborates a detailed result. The interpretation is then sent to the doctor who requested the MRI investigation. He can then discuss the results with the patient.

What are the extra costs?

In order to improve the scan, approximately 5% to 10% of the patients will need a special dye injected into the body or a contrast solution. If you will be one of them, be prepared to pay anywhere between $110 and $310 for this solution.

Important things to consider

MRI MachinePatients who have any metallic materials inside the body should inform their doctor before the examination or inform the specialist staff. Metallic materials or foreign materials (joint prostheses, bone metal plates, prosthetic devices, etc.) can significantly distort the images obtained by MRI scanning. Patients who have pacemakers, metal implants, can NOT be scanned because the magnet impairs the functionality of these devices. Patients with artificial heart valves will have a preliminary discussion with their medical imaging physician.

All metal objects on the body are removed before the Magnetic Resonance Imaging investigation.

You can find an accredited health center, clinic, or hospital that performs MRIs in your area by using a search tool available on the American College of Radiology website.

How can I save money?

Depending on the place where you are living, you can find a diagnostic imaging center that offers discounted prices of around $400 to $600. Though, these discounts are applied to the patients that don’t have health insurance and pay in cash.

Alec Pow
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