MRI scan of the brain is a painless, noninvasive test that produces detailed images of your brain and brain stem. A brain MRI costs usually between $250-$12,000.

Brain MRI scan cost

Brain MRI scan cost by insurance type:

MRI prices by location and insurance type
Insurance type Clinic MRI price  Hospital MRI price
High-deductible patient $1,200 – $2,400 $2,100 – $12,000
Insured patient (25% copay) $300 – $800 $700 – $2,000
Cash patient $250 – $400 $500 – $2,000

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When may you need an MRI scan of the brain?

Brain MRI is useful in evaluating problems such as persistent headaches, dizziness, weakness, and blurry vision or seizures, and it can help to detect certain chronic diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis. In some cases, MRI can provide clear images of parts of the brain that cannot be seen as well with other imaging methods, making it particularly valuable for diagnosing problems with the pituitary gland and brain stem.

It can help diagnose conditions such as:

    • brain tumors
    • stroke
    • infections
    • developmental anomalies
    • causes of epilepsy (seizure)
    • hemorrhage in selected trauma patients
    • certain chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis
    • disorders of the eye and inner ear
    • causes of hormonal disorders (Cushing’s disease, acromegaly)
    • disorders of the pituitary gland
    • aneurysms (a bubble-like expansion of the vessel)
    • arterial occlusions (blockage)
    • venous thrombosis (a blood clot within a vein)

Is there any condition, in which I could not be able to get the brain MRI?

There are several conditions, which may complicate the performance of the brain MRI, such as allergies or metal devices.

The radiologist may ask if you have allergies to iodine, drugs, food, or the environment, or if you have asthma. Brain MRI may require you to receive an injection of contrast material into the bloodstream. The contrast material most commonly used for an MRI exam is gadolinium. However, even if it is known that the patient has an allergy to the gadolinium contrast, it may still be possible to use it after appropriate pre-medication. More about contrast agents you can read here.

For patients with metal implants, an MRI exam is safe in most cases. People with the following implants cannot be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area:

  • cochlear (ear) implant
  • some types of clips used for brain aneurysms
  • some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
  • nearly all cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers

In cases you have a tattoo, it is also needed to inform your radiologist. To get to know more about the risks connected with tattoos and MRI, click here.

In some cases, you may meed also fMRI examination – an imaging method developed to show regional, time-varying changes in brain metabolism, in other words, changing in areas of the brain that are active during a task. However, classical MRI of the brain is performed for a number of abrupt onset or long-standing symptoms

How to save money on brain MRI scan cost?

  • Take your doctor referral to the facility that offers you the best price for MRI scan
  • Shop around across 4-10 facilities to find the best deal for you, focus also on free-standing imaging facilities
  • Pay in cash to save 40-80% of the cost (HSA counts)
  • Consider doing this MRI in the large metro area (Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas) that have more competitive rates

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