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All You Need to Know About MRI Scans

MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a technology that helps to get clear pictures of the internal organs and tissues in the body. Your physician may prescribe an array of tests for further diagnosis and most importantly, an MRI scan. MRI scans can easily detect all kinds of tumors, infections, abnormalities, and all other types of physical problems.

There is also a radiologist who will further read the scan results and make a report based on it. You have to take the stories to your physician, and he will finally diagnose accurately and then suggest a treatment plan.

MRI scans are now a standard procedure and almost suggested by all doctors. The price of this scan varies from one clinic to another. Moreover, there are so many high deductible medical plans, and patients still do not get coverage for MRI scans. In most of the cases, the copay and the allowed amount both become expenses for the patient.

Types of MRI scans

If you know the various types of MRI scans and their range of prices, you will be able to compare the costs. It will help you find the most suitable center in your area. The cost of an MRI session is based on the facilities and also the location of the MRI center. You must be ready to pay the hefty out-of-pocket costs.

MRI scans are not always similar. It is your physician who will guide you with what type of MRI test you must go through. The cost of an MRI test will also vary based on what organ is receiving the scan. Facilities and geographical position come secondary.

Usually, MRI scans everywhere cost something in-between the range of $400-$3,600. The following are some of the most critical and conventional MRI scans.

  • Head MRI- This is the scan of the nerve tissues and the brain. Head MRIs are mostly performed to detect any neurological problems.
  • Pelvic MRI- The pelvic section of your body is the part below your hip area. The pelvic bone lies below the hip bones. If you are going for a pelvic MRI, the report will show clear images of the lymph nodes, bladder, and a part of the reproductive system.
  • Cardiac MRI- With this kind of MRI, the blood vessels and the heart go through the testing process. Surprisingly, the images in this MRI report can also be moving. Cardiac MRI is usually performed to get an idea of the heart health and if it is functioning correctly.
  • Spinal MRI- The best way to detect any injuries, tumors, or nerve damage is by performing a spinal MRI.

Experts may also perform MRI on the other parts of your body, for example, knees, wrists, and ankles. The scanning of such organs is comparatively less costly in comparison to the internal components of the body. Some patients must also go through a full-body scan. Now, that is going to be expensive as well as time-consuming.

The traditional MRI machine looks like a tunnel, but now other designs are launched in the market. These are:

  • Open MRI- The classic MRI machines are narrow and enclosed. On the other hand, open MRI machines are more comprehensive and require more space. The available MRI machines are ideal for claustrophobic patients and also people who are not able to fit in regular MRI machines.
  • Upright MRI- These machines are constructed in a way that the patients can stand or sit during the scan.

MRI without contrast vs. with contrast

Most of the catalogs you find with MRI costs on them are those without contrast. ‘Contrast’ means a particular dye that improves the picture so that the physicians get a better image. Contrast dye is extremely useful, but patients do not require it every time. As per records, only 5-8% of patients require MRI scans with contrast dye. The additional cost for contrast dye starts from $100 to $300.

Additional costs

Some patients become restless when they slide inside the MRI machine. Such restlessness is usually a result of the claustrophobia of the small device. Such patients need sedatives before the MRI scan starts. The sedation procedure may take anything from 10 minutes to more than an hour. The most common sedative to calm down patients during this process is Diprivan. It is mild in dosage and can cause semi-unconsciousness in patients.

The additional cost of such sedative ranges from $125 to $400. Apart from these costs, the copay is another expense when you visit the physician. The fees of the radiologist are also an added expense.

How to find less-expensive MRIs?

When we say that the cost of MRI scans profoundly depends on the geographical area, the variation might take you by surprise. It is your responsibility to look for the best and most reasonable price before you get the MRI scan done.

Hospitals are the most expensive when it comes to MRI and other scans. The cost goes up to almost five times in comparison to other centers. The independent MRI labs are better and have more reasonable packages. Therefore, most of the people cannot afford scans in a hospital and opt for freestanding MRI facilities.

Most of the imaging centers and hospitals try to catch patients who do not have proper medical insurance. Such patients have to pay all the expenses by himself. Most of the times, to retain patients, the hospitals usually offer cash discounts or deferred payment options too. A better option for you can be a low-interest credit card.

Medical costs become a burden for people who do not have any proper medical insurance. It is a pain also for those who have high deductible insurance plans. However, MRI scans are essential for doctors to diagnose diseases more accurately. It is your work to do your part of the research and find a place that offers MRI scans at less expensive rates.

Final thoughts

MRI is a vital part of critical treatment, and you must get it done from a place that will suit your pockets. This article will help you with all the necessary details that you must know about MRI scans.


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