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Brain Surgery Cost

How Much Does Brain Surgery Cost?

average costWith Health Insurance: Copay and 10%-50% Coinsurancehigh costWithout Health Insurance: $50,000-$150,000+
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Brain surgery can be used to treat various problems, including a brain tumor, aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation -- an abnormal tangle of blood vessels -- and brain injury.

Typical costs:

  • For patients covered by health insurance, the typical cost of brain surgery will include doctor copays and coinsurance of 10-50% or more -- likely reaching the yearly out-of-pocket maximum. Brain surgery typically is covered by health insurance.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, the typical cost of brain surgery ranges from $50,000-$150,000 or more. For example, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center[1] in New Hampshire charges about $72,500 for brain surgery, including hospital charge and doctor fees, after a 30% uninsured discount. Saint Elizabeth Medical Center[2] in Nebraska charges about $33,600-$78,700, not including doctor fees. And Baptist Memorial Healthcare in Memphis charges almost $50,000 without major complications to more than $110,000 with major complications, not including the doctor fees, which can add up to $30,000 or more to the final bill.
Related articles: Brain Tumor Treatment, Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • No matter which type of brain surgery is being done, the surgeon typically performs a craniotomy, in which the skull is opened to access the brain. The patient typically is placed under general anesthesia, part of the head is shaved and the scalp is cleaned with antiseptic. The surgeon then cuts the scalp, pulls it back and removes a piece of bone to see into the brain directly or, if performing endoscopic surgery, insert an endoscope and surgical tools. Once the surgeon has access to the brain, the type of surgery depends on the problem being treated.
  • In the case of a brain tumor, the surgeon will cut away the tumor or, in some cases, as much of the tumor as possible. Depending on the individual case, the surgeon might also insert devices that release chemotherapy or radiation. The American Brain Tumor Association offers information about brain surgery for tumors.
  • In the case of a brain aneurysm, the surgeon usually will place a clip directly on the aneurysm to keep it from bursting -- the most common method of repair. Or, in an alternative method that does not require that the skull be opened, the doctor can insert a catheter into an artery in the groin and guide it through blood vessels up to the brain, where it is used to place metal wires that cause blood clots to form, preventing the aneurysm from rupturing. The National Institutes of Health offers information about brain surgery for an aneurysm[3] .
  • In the case of an arteriovenous malformation[4] (AVM), the surgeon removes as much of the AVM as possible. Another possible option is stereotactic radiosurgery.
  • In the case of Parkinson's disease and certain other problems, the surgeon implants a device called a neurostimulator, which can interfere with electrical signals in the brain in order to reduce neurological symptoms. The National Institutes of Health has an overview of surgery for deep brain stimulation[5] .
  • In the case of a head injury, the surgical treatment would depend on the individual case and could include removal of blood clots, relief of pressure from swelling and fluid build-up, and repair and reconstruction of damaged structures.
Additional costs:
  • After brain surgery, a patient might need physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy. This can cost hundreds of dollars per session -- and can total thousands or tens of thousands of dollars or more.
  • Many doctors and hospitals give discounts of up to 30% or more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. For example, Washington Hospital Healthcare System[6] in California offers a 35% discount.
Shopping for brain surgery:
  • For diagnosis and treatment of a problem involving the brain, a primary care doctor can make a referral to neurologist. Or, the American Academy of Neurology offers a doctor locator[7] , which allows patients and their families to search for neurologists who specialize in brain tumors.
  • The neurologist can make a referral to a neurosurgeon. Or, the American Board of Neurological Surgery offers a doctor locator for board-certified neurosurgeons[8] . It is important to make sure the neurosurgeon has extensive experience performing the specific type of surgery the patient needs.
  • If the patient has cancer, the neurologist can make a referral to an oncologist. The American Society of Clinical Oncology also offers a doctor locator[9] , allowing patients and their families to search for oncologists who specialize in brain tumors.
  • A neurosurgeon at lists five questions to ask[10] when choosing a brain surgery team.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Removal Of Cavernoma entwined by a grade 2 tumour
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: Anthony Tattersall in Fareham, Other.Posted: August 27th, 2015 02:08PM
Insurance Carrier: NHS (via National Insurance)Surgeon: Prof. L Gray
The removal (bar small tentacle-like extensions of the tumour) was a complete success with only minor deficits to speech (it was near a known speech/sound processing region). I have been free from seizures now for nearly 5yrs. Please note: In the UK medical treatment is FREE irrespective of one's conditions, age, I suggest you in the USA follow our example and vote against TTIP. In your country I would most likely have been un-insurable since I had seizures since I was 14. The total cost in the USA of my treatment over a period of 50+yrs is UNTHINKABLE. I've had EEGs, MRI's, PET's (and still have a yearly gadolinium MRI)+ hundreds of doctor's visits, at various times (in approx. time order), phenobarbitone, ospolot, mysolin, phenytoin, epilim,carbamazepine (which gave relief for some 8 years),lamotrogine (which gave me Stevens-Johnson syndrome) some 20yrs ago and the skin on my forearms, hands and lower legs and feet has never fully recovered.
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3 Brain Surgeries
Amount: $3,000.00
Posted by: a user in hawthorne, CA.Posted: March 23rd, 2013 01:03AM
Insurance Carrier: Blue CrossSurgeon:
I don't know where people people got those low numbers because I cost my insurance company around 2.1 million. That includes MRI, MRA, Cat scan, doctor visits, and eeg. ALL of this in about 11 months. Good luck!
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