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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Tests, X-Rays & Imaging > Spinal MRI

Spinal MRI Cost


How Much Does a Spinal MRI Cost?

 
average costWith Health Insurance: $20-$100+ Copayhigh costWithout Health Insurance: $1,000-$5,000
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A spinal MRI[1] is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to create detailed pictures of the discs and nerves of the spine. It may be used to detect problems such as infection, nerve damage, or a tumor, or to clarify results from other tests, such as an X-ray or CT scan. The test is non invasive and does not use radiation.

Typical costs:

  • A spinal MRI typically costs about $1,000-$5,000, depending on such factors as the area of the spine being scanned, whether the procedure is performed in a hospital or a physician's office, and a patient's geographical location. For example, at Aspirus Wausau Hospital[2] in Wisconsin, a basic spinal MRI without contrast (a special dye delivered by IV) costs about $3,03 -$3,290, while at the Pacific Alliance Medical Center in Los Angeles it costs $2,554-$3,115.
  • A spinal MRI, when deemed medically necessary, is typically covered by health insurance plans. If deductibles are met, typical out-of-pocket costs for insured patients consist of a copay for the doctor's visit and possibly a copay for the MRI. For example, under a First CarolinaCare[3] copay plan, the visit copay would be $20 and the MRI copay $100.
Related articles: CT Scan, X-Ray, Brain MRI, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • Prior to the scan, the patient will need to remove any jewelry or clothing containing metal. Then, the patient will be asked to lie on a moveable table that slides into a tunnel surrounded by a magnet, where radio waves are broadcast to create a three-dimensional image of the body.
  • The scan typically lasts 30-60 minutes, but may take longer. Because of the time and positioning required, patients should have the ability to lie flat for that time.
  • Patients can expect to hear loud noises from the machine, but many MRI departments offer earplugs to block the sounds.
  • WebMD offers a detailed overview[4] of the procedure.
Additional costs:
  • About one in 20 patients feel claustrophobic or anxious inside a traditional MRI machine and require a mild sedative such as propofol (Diprivan)[5] , which can cost about $125 - -$400.
  • It's estimated that 5%-10% of patients need a contrast solution, or special dye injected into the body, to further enhance the scan. The solution typically costs about $100-$300 extra.
Discounts:
  • Some diagnostic imaging centers offer discounted prices from about $380-$560, depending on geographic location. These typically apply to patients who pay cash or use credit and do not use health insurance. For example, the imaging center MRI Solutions[6] in Indianapolis offers an MRI of any one region of the body for a flat fee of $450.
Shopping for a spinal mri:
  • The American College of Radiology has a search tool[7] on its website to help patients find accredited hospitals, clinics or health centers that perform MRIs in their area.
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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External Resources:
  1.  www.webmd.com/brain/magnetic-resonance-imaging-mri-of-the-spine
  2.  www.aspirus.org/hospitalsClinics/index.cfm?catID=3&subcatID=19&pageID=736
  3.  www.firstcarolinacare.com/brokers/copay_deductible.htm
  4.  www.webmd.com/brain/magnetic-resonance-imaging-mri-of-the-spine?page=2
  5.  www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/propofol
  6.  www.indymri.com/
  7.  www.acr.org/Quality-Safety/Accreditation/Accredited-Facility-Search
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