Invented in 1977, the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning device changed medical history forever. MRI scanners are special pieces of medical equipment that give doctors the ability to see inside the entire body and split it up into sections. This gives medical professionals a 2D or 3D view of the body. This also allows the doctors a greater ability to diagnose patients faster and easier, helping to save millions of lives since its introduction to the medical community.
For an MRI scan to work, the patient is placed on a table that slides into the bore, or hole in the center of the machine. Once the part that needs to be scanned is in the isocenter of the machine's magnetic field, the scan begins. Once the scan has been completed, the information is sent from the MRI scanner to a computer screen where the data is compiled and displayed.
MRI stand for Magnetic Resonance Imaging which is a technology that uses magnetic signals to show the different tissues inside the body allowing a digital image of inside the human body to be created. MRI's are primarily used to study nerves, muscles, ligaments, bones, and numerous other tissues in the body, primarily soft tissues. There are approximately 26,000,000 MRI procedures performed each year making this one of the more common imaging technologies used to view inside the body.
MRI cost can range between $400 to $3,500 depending upon which MRI procuedure is performed (example: brain MRI vs. shoulder MRI) and where you have the MRI test performed. The same exact MRI test can vary by hundreds of dollars from testing facility to testing facility. That's why it is important that you shop around to make sure you're getting the best possible price. By spending a little time and shopping around your local hospitals and imaging centers you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. MRI costs are broken down into two areas:
Technical Fees: this is the cost of the procedure and where there is a potential to save a considerable amount of money.
Professional Fees: this is the fee associated with having the radiologist interpret the test result.
MRI's are expensive because of the price of the equipment. With the average MRI machine costing over $1 million dollars they have to charge enough per test to cover the expense of the machine. Now, that doesn't mean you can get a better price that what is published. Similar to the price of a new automobile, everyone knows that the "sticker price" is just an asking price. There's a nice mark-up included in that price and often if you ask the dealer to come off that price they will. MRI procedures are often no different. Most hospitals and imaging centers have a "sticker price" which are often on the high end. If you ask and work with most facilities they will often offer a substantial discount to individuals and insurance carriers due to the form of payment and the volume of procedures they pay for on an annual basis.
As noted above, MRI costs can vary by hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars so it's important that you shop around to get the best price. For example, listed below are some real examples or MRI procedure prices from around the United States.
The most important part of an MRI machine is the magnet. MRI machines can utilize three different kinds of magnets, resistive, superconductive, and permanent. However, superconductive magnets are the most popular. The magnets in MRI scanners can use their magnetic fields to emit radio waves powerful enough to affect the body's atoms.
How it Works
Once the magnet has been turned on it creates a magnetic field. This powerful magnetic field is strong enough to move and manipulate the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms in our body. As the atoms return to their places, they emit radio waves. These waves can then be picked up by the MRI machine. The MRI machine can then determine the type of tissue in the body being scanned by the type of radio waves being sent out from the nuclei. The stronger the radio waves, the closer that atom is to the surface of the body. This allows the machine to also create a three-dimensional picture of the body based off of where the nuclei are in the body. The result is a full picture of the body displaying all of its tissues.
How it's Used
Since the MRI machine can determine what types of tissues are sending out the radio waves, it can also tell when the tissue is something like a tumor, a blood clot, or really any irregularity. This allows the doctors to make a diagnosis and begin further testing or treatment.