Although it weighs just three pounds, the brain is amazingly complex, and it controls all the functions of the human body. The brain also processes all the information coming in from the outside world and oversees things like emotions, our memories, movement, and speech. Because the brain is so important, hearing that you need a scan of this vital organ may have you feeling nervous or alarmed. Although the idea of a brain MRI can sound scary, knowing what to expect can make the experience less stressful for you.
This blog will cover some of the reasons you may need this scan, how it’s done, how to get ready for a brain MRI, and how much it may cost.
Why you might have a brain MRI?
MRI scans are one of the most effective ways to find injuries or conditions happening inside the brain. This type of scan is usually done if a person has an accident has trauma (injury) to the head, but there are other reasons why your doctor might order one for you, such as:
- Multiple sclerosis (central nervous system disorder)
- Aneurysms (bulging of a blood vessel)
- Any type of spinal cord injury
- Hydrocephalus (buildup of spinal fluid in the brain cavities).
- Hormonal disorders such as Acromegaly or Cushing’s syndrome.
- Issues with the blood vessels
- Head injury or swelling
- Unexplained dizziness, weakness, or seizures
- Change in behavior
- Blurry vision
- Chronic headache
There is also something known as a functional MRI. This is a type of brain scan is usually done for people who are getting ready for brain surgery. It helps pinpoint the areas in the brain that are responsible for speech, language, and bodily movement. The main difference between this and regular MRI scans is that it looks at changes that relate to blood flow, and specifically at metabolic function. Usually, the functional MRI scan (also known as fMRI) is done 24 to 48 hours before surgery, and it gives the surgeon the most accurate pictures of the brain before the operation. There is also a special type of MRI that is called MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) that is used to look closely at delicate blood vessels in the brain.
How to prepare for a brain MRI?
Once you enter the clinic, you will be told to change into a hospital gown. You will need to remove metal jewelry or piercings, as well as clothes with metal fasteners like zippers. Because the machine uses magnets, metal items are not allowed because they can have created problems with the results or the test.
Before you begin your test, you need to tell the technician if you have any of the following:
- If you are taking medications. Your doctor may have already talked to you about whether you should be taking them before or during the test.
- If you are allergic to contrast dye that is used during the test.
- If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
- If you are claustrophobic, the doctor will provide you with anti-anxiety medicines.
- You must inform the technician if you have any implants within your body like teeth implants, stents, prosthetic limbs, pacemakers, or artificial heart valves.
- If you have kidney problems because the contrast dye can affect your kidney function.
Once you have gone over these things with your technician, you may be given a contrast dye called Gadolinium. This liquid dye is given to give a clearer picture of parts of the brain since it shows up in the pictures with higher contrast. Usually, you will receive this dye via an IV, a needle in your arm.
When you are ready and are laying down on the table, you’ll be slid inside the machine. You may be allowed to listen to music or given earplugs, depending on your facility and provider, which can block out the loud noise of the machine. The machine will begin spinning and will make loud whirring or banging noises. You may feel nervous, but this is perfectly normal and is a sign the machine is doing what it’s supposed to.
How is a brain MRI done?
MRI is a type of medical imaging that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of parts of the body. The magnetic fields rearrange the water molecules within the body, and the radio waves send signals that help create visual images on a computer. It doesn’t include X-Rays or ionizing radiation (radiation that detaches electrons from molecules or atoms), which makes it different from CT scans and PET scans. Although it may sound nerve-racking, MRI scans are generally painless and simple for the patient.
The actual procedure is done inside a long, slender machine shaped like a tube. You’ll be asked to lay down and you will be slid inside on a table. Clear images will be taken of your head, while the machine spins and moves around you. You will be able to speak to the technician with a microphone if you need to, otherwise, you will need to lay very still. The process of taking the images should take about 30-60 minutes.
How much does a Brain MRI cost?
The average cost of a brain MRI ranges from $250 to $12,000, depending on the facility, and if you have insurance. If you have a high deductible plan, you may pay $1,200-$12,000, and if you have insurance with a co-pay, you might be closer to $250-$4,000. Your cost will also be lower if you choose a clinic setting over a hospital. Cash-pay patients would see a cost of about $250-$2,000.
Many factors go into the cost of your brain MRI, including the cost of the MRI machine, your geographical location, your provider, and the type of contrast dye that is being used.
With the current healthcare challenges due to COVID, it’s important to choose providers that you can trust, and ones you can afford. When it comes to a brain MRI, which is a very important test that requires accurate results, you want the highest quality, as well. ZeaMed is one of the most trusted healthcare firms and takes your healthcare seriously.
At ZeaMed, our panels of trusted experts and technicians can guide you through your healthcare choices, and give you more control over your decisions. You will be able to compare prices and providers and see locations near you. Visit us today at ZeaMed.com