What’s the cost of an whole-body MRI without insurance?

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MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is an imaging test that uses non-ionizing radiation to create diagnostic images. A whole-body MRI can be considered as an option to evaluate the whole body with excellent spatial resolution and high sensitivity.

This article presents the most important causes, areas of application, risks, and costs of whole-body MRI.

What is a whole-body MRI?

A whole-body MRI provides high-resolution images of the entire body, including all organs of the skeletal system, joints, and vascular system.

Whole-body MRI scans the body from head to toe to detect cancer, inflammation or obstructive processes in the body. In the head, for example, the examination can reveal brain masses and their shrinkage and old strokes. In the neck area, abnormalities in the lymph nodes, thyroid masses or arthritis in the cervical spine can be detected. In the chest, the heart is checked for enlargement, the lungs for tumors, and the aorta for aneurysms. The abdomen shows the pelvic area, kidneys, liver, spleen, adrenal glands, gallbladder, pancreas, bladder, uterus, ovaries and prostate. All of these structures can be examined for obstruction, inflammation, or another suspicious change. It is possible to display images of the spine selectively.

Whole body MRI – causes and reasons

There are various diagnostic methods, including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and X-rays, which are used for cancer screening and regular health checks. However, especially when several different imaging procedures are required, a complete early detection can be very time-consuming and uncomfortable for the patient. Therefore, it would be most time-efficient if a single imaging modality could provide information about multiple organs or even the entire body.

Due to the lack of radiation exposure, whole-body MRI is ideal for preventive care, e.g. B. in cancer or vascular diseases, as well as for the assessment of the course of malignant diseases or to rule out metastases of a tumor. Since this test does not use ionizing radiation, it is safe to use even on young patients. Another application of whole-body MRI is the display of inflammatory skeletal diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and the recording of their activity.

Whole-body MRI indications and uses include:

health screenings

Whole-body MRI is particularly suitable for the prevention of cancer or vascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are among the most common causes of death in Germany and in the civilized world. They usually develop, initially asymptomatic, due to calcification and narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body. Over time, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Whole-body MRI is a good method here to examine the entire cardiovascular system for damaged changes.

Evaluation of the course of malignant diseases

Another reason for whole-body MRI is to diagnose malignant tumors. Above all, tumors that have spread even the smallest metastases in the body can be identified well. MRI is highly accurate in detecting metastases in the organs of the upper abdomen, lymph nodes and the entire skeletal system.

Whole-body MRI is a gentle and radiation-free diagnostic tool for young patients with many benign bone growths (exostoses), who often have to be examined because of the risk of malignant changes.

Body composition assessment

The great variability in human body composition makes MRI imaging the most powerful tool for assessing body composition, particularly about obesity. Whole-body MRI is often the method of choice because it has no known long-term side effects, allows for large-area and repeated recordings, and studies in children and adolescents.

Non-neoplastic musculoskeletal disorders

Whole-body MRI without radiation can detect multifocal lesions in a wide range of non-neoplastic musculoskeletal disorders. This spectrum includes diseases such as chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis, Ollier ‘s disease and Paget’s disease. It is an important diagnostic tool and provides information about the underlying disease burden. In addition, it enables targeted treatment and tracking of the course of the disease. In addition, MRI also plays a role in the examination for malignant changes in disease.

Whole-body MRI – procedure and examination

MRI examinations can generally be carried out on an outpatient basis. The patient is placed on a mobile examination table and straps and cushions can be used for fixation to avoid image errors. Devices that contain coils and are capable of emitting radio waves (e.g. cell phones) should be placed outside the room.

MRI scans generally involve multiple runs (sequences), some of which can last several minutes. If a contrast dye is used, the radiologist will insert an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm, through which the contrast dye will be injected.

The patient is placed in the magnet of the MRI unit. The assistant examines a computer outside the room. If a contrast medium is used during the examination, it is injected into the intravenous line after an initial image sequence. Additional images are taken during or after the injection.

When the examination is complete, the patient is asked to be patient as more images may be needed. The intravenous line will be removed after the examination.

Whole body MRI – duration of the examination

Depending on the type of exam and the equipment used, the entire exam is usually completed in 30 to 50 minutes.

Whole body MRI – risks and side effects

The whole-body MRI is completely painless. It poses almost no risk to the average patient if proper safety guidelines are followed.

With sedation, there is a risk of using too much. Therefore, vital signs should be monitored to minimize this risk.

The strong magnetic field is not harmful. However, implanted medical devices can malfunction.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is a known but rare complication associated with gadolinium contrast injection. It usually occurs in patients with severe kidney disease. The doctor will carefully evaluate kidney function before considering an injection of contrast medium.

There is a very small risk of an allergic reaction if contrast media is used. Such reactions are usually mild and can be controlled with medication. Intravenous contrast media manufacturers state that mothers should not breast-feed their infants for 24-48 hours after contrast administration.

Whole-body MRI – images and evaluation

MRI whole body: healthy image

The benefit of whole-body MRI about abnormal findings can be explained using the example of multiple myeloma, which can have two different forms.

The image shows an MRI full-body scan in sagittal (left) and frontal (right) sections. This finding is from a healthy patient and shows no abnormalities.

In patients with asymptomatic multiple myeloma, the use of whole-body MRI improves the detection of focal lesions that conventional spinal MRI would miss. In patients with what is known as “smoldering” myeloma, positive whole-body MRI findings correlate with a higher risk of early progression to symptomatic disease. Therefore, considering the diagnostic contribution of whole-body MRI, this technique is recommended for all patients with smoldering or asymptomatic myeloma.

MRI whole body – costs

Whole-body MRI usually costs more and can take longer than other imaging tests. If you pay yourself, €990 will be charged. Private health insurance companies usually reimburse the costs of the examination in full. The statutory health insurance companies usually only bear the costs partially or in justified individual cases

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