Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a valuable tool that helps physicians diagnose a variety of conditions by providing quality snapshots of internal organs and other bodily structures. Like other forms of diagnostic imaging (X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, etc.), MRIs have seen a surge in usage over the past decade, and, as MRIs have become more commonly used in diagnostics, patients have seen a rise in costs. As the MRI becomes more routine, a talk of costs becomes more topical. Before you schedule your future MRI, it’s important to consider the following.
How much does an MRI cost?
There are many variations on an MRI diagnostic: the location being scanned, use of contrast, and type of facility performing the MRI all influence the exact pricing for the procedure. As a general rule, however, an MRI performed in a hospital will typically have a higher price tag than those performed in standalone imaging centers. Prices will also increase with the use of contrast.
The national average, for example, for a brain MRI without contrast is about $1,400. If you add contrast to that same procedure, the national average increases to $2,300.
You can use the HealthCost search feature to find the exact price of a specific MRI procedure at a location near you.
What goes into the cost of an MRI?
MRI machines are one of the most expensive pieces of equipment to purchase and operate in a hospital’s entire imaging department. The upfront cost for the machine itself can range from $150,000 to $3 million, depending on the specific unit. Once purchased, the facility then needs to figure out where to put it. Because of the machine’s large, awkward shape and powerful magnetic field, facilities have to house it in a specially designed room—called an MRI suite—that complements its shape and contains the magnetic field.
For patients, this can mean a costly diagnostic procedure, especially when compared to other imaging diagnostics, such as X-rays or CT scans. However, there are certain conditions where an MRI scan may provide more detail than an X-ray or CT scan, making it the preferred procedure. We recommend speaking with your doctor to determine the best course of diagnostics.