An MRI scan uses strong magnets and radio waves to create images of the parts of your body without making a surgical incision. Also, MRI does not use radiation. MRI of the knee looks specifically at your knee joint and its surrounding areas. By using an X-ray your doctor will get pictures of the bones in your leg. MRI examination allows to see also your cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and even some blood vessels.

Knee MRI scan cost by insurance type

Knee MRI prices by location and insurance type
Insurance type Clinic MRI price  Hospital MRI price
High-deductible patient $1,200 – $2,000 $3,000 – $6,000
Insured patient (25% copay) $300 – $500 $1,000 – $2,000
Cash patient $250 – $500 $500 – $2,000

Tips for saving money on MRI scan cost for a knee scan

  • Take your doctor referral to the facility with the best price
  • Shop around across 4-8 facilities to find the best deal for you
  • Pay in cash to save 40-80% of the cost
  • Consider doing this MRI in the large metro area (Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas) that have more competitive rates
  • Use your HSA to cover your cash expenses (clinics will still consider this a cash payment)

When do you could need MRI of the knee?

If you suffer from pain, weakness, or swelling around your knee joint, you may need an MRI examination. This imaging technique can help your doctor see what might be causing your symptoms. An MRI is usually ordered to help diagnose and treat many types of conditions, such as:

  • arthritis and other degenerative joint disorders
  • bone fractures
  • damaged cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or meniscus
  • decreased motion of the knee joint
  • fluid collection in the knee
  • inflammation
  • infection
  • problems with implanted medical devices
  • sports- or trauma-related injury
  • tumors

Your doctor may also order an MRI to determine if knee arthroscopy or another surgical procedure is needed and to monitor your progress after knee surgery. A special form of MRI called an MR arthrogram involves the injection of contrast into the joint so that the radiologist can get a better look at the relevant structures.

What to expect during the examination?

For a knee MRI, you will enter the MRI machine feetfirst, and only your lower body will be in the tube. During the exam, you’re usually alone in the room. An MRI technologist will be outside, performing the exam from a computer,  talking to you via a two-way intercom. Sometimes, a contrast agent may be injected into your joint. Be prepared to hold still for around 15 to 45 minutes, sometimes longer, while the machine takes images of your knee. After the examination, you will be able to continue your day as you normally would. More about how to prepare for an MRI examination you can find here

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