What Is An MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that utilizes magnets, and radio waves. to create highly detailed images inside of the body. The images appear as "slices" like the image to the right (below on mobile). These detailed images allow Drs. to see many conditions inside the brain.
Why does an MRI cost so much?
The cost of an MRI for a dog or cat can range from $2500 to over $4500. But why?
Like most things - not all MRI Machines are equal. There are various size machines that differ in power. This power is measured in Teslas, the magnetic field strength. While low-field machines measure 0.2-0.3 Teslas, the much more powerful state-of-the-art machines are capable of 3 Teslas. The smallest of the bunch, the low-field MRI machine, goes for around $1 million. Its 3 Tesla counterpart will run over $3 million.
This powerful machine needs a place to live. The MRI Suite is required to have numerous safety features that protect the staff from stray magnetic fields.
According to the radiologist experts at AuntMinnie.com; Adding a building to support a 1.5-tesla MRI to an outpatient facility has a baseline construction cost of $350,000 for the new magnet technical spaces plus $150,000 for new patient support areas.
Its easy to forget the payroll of the staff operating the machine. Including but not limited to a Radiologist, A Technician, and a Doctor. A radiologist must also interpret the results. Once started, scans can take up to 1 hour to complete.
MRIs require the patient be absolutely still through the duration of the scan. Dogs and Cats need to be sedated, so include the cost of sedation drugs, and possibly a Veterinary Anesthesiologist. Additionally, some scans require the use of a paramagnetic liquid, used as a contrast dye to better identify abnormalities.
By The Numbers
A 3 Tesla MRI with a new MRI suite may run a Veterinary Hospital $3.5 Million. At the average $3000 per scan, it would take 1,167 scans to pay off the machine - not including the cost of Staff and meds.