Last updated on September 10, 2021.
In Hong Kong, the cost of doing an MRI scan can vary significantly between hospitals, so it’s a good idea to compare prices in advance. Healthy Matters brings you a practical guide with all the details you need.
What is an MRI?
A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a type of diagnostic scan used to produce detailed images of various tissues and organs with a broad range of applications. Through the use of powerful magnetic fields, electromagnetic waves and computer programs, specialists can conduct a much more accurate diagnosis and evaluate medical conditions of each patient. It is a safe, painless and non-invasive tool that can precisely detect structural abnormalities of the body.
An MRI scan can show things that can’t be detected by an X-ray or an ultrasound scan. In contrast to X-ray machines and CT scanners, an MRI scan does not involve the harmful radiation.
Here are some examples in which an MRI scan can be used:
- anomalies of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system, such as stroke and sclerosis
- heart conditions
- tumours, cysts, and other anomalies in various parts of the body
- injuries or abnormalities of the joints, such as the back and knee
- diseases of the liver, kidney or bowel
- cancer screening
Is it safe?
Even though an MRI scan does not have known side effects, it may not be suitable for everyone. Indeed, MRIs use powerful magnets, and can affect metallic materials inside your body including those used for surgical clips or pins. To avoid any accidents, patients must remove any metal from their bodies such as jewellry, metal snaps and zippers.
It is usually not recommended to have an MRI if you have:
- a heart pacemaker or defibrillator
- an inner-ear hearing aid
- an aneurysm clip
- metal implants, chips or clips
- insulin pumps
If you are pregnant, be sure to inform your doctor before you schedule an MRI. There is not enough evidence surrounding the effects of the magnetic field on an unborn baby. You will be advised on alternative options or the scan will be done in a way to reduce any possible risk to your baby.
If you are claustrophobic, a doctor can give you a calming medication to help make the procedure more comfortable and ease your anxiety. They can also arrange a scan at the hospital with an ‘open’ MRI scanner. Unlike a conventional MRI scanner, an open MRI does not completely surround your body as it is open on two or three sides.
Also, tell the radiologist if you have tattoos or permanent makeup as some of the darker inks contain metal.
What’s a typical MRI procedure?
Upon arrival, medical staff will ask you about any medical conditions and explain the overall scanning procedure. You will be asked to remove all metals on your body and may receive an injection of intravenous (IV) contrast liquid to improve the visibility of a particular tissue that is relevant to the scan. The nurse will help you to lay on the table and slowly move into the scanning machine.
During the scan procedures, it is vital to stay still as any movement will make the image blurry. You may hear loud apparatus noise so use the headset or ear plugs provided by the hospital. The overall length of the procedure depends on the number of body parts that need to be scanned but usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. The radiologist will see and hear you during the whole procedure. If you feel uncomfortable during the test, speak to the radiologist via intercom and request assistance.
After the test, a radiologist will examine the MRI scans and prepare a written report for the doctor who requested the test. You will be able to go back to normal activities immediately after the scan. That said, if you have taken a sedative it is not recommended to drive, drink alcohol or sign formal documents for the next 24 hours.
How much does it cost to do an MRI in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, MRI costs vary greatly, depending among others on the quality of facilities and location. Our findings at Healthy Matters show that MRI costs in Hong Kong range from about $3,000 to $48,600.
Please enquire at your clinic of choice for the specific costs.
* All amounts are in HKD and were last updated in May 2020. No responsibility is accepted for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions. It is always best to call ahead to make sure the information is still up-to-date.
Cost of an MRI scan in HK’s public sector:
For the public sector, the Hospital Authority provides MRI tests under private services. The price ranges from $3,000 to $20,000.
Beware of waiting times which can be very long in the public sector.
Cost of an MRI scan in HK’s private sector:
Doing an MRI in A private hospital
There are 13 private hospitals in Hong Kong, and each of them offers MRIs. To make it easier for you, we have prepared the following table summarising their costs.
Head and Neck
5,500 - 20,200
5,000 - 20,400
5,500 - 24,700
4,800 - 14,000
4,600 - 48,600
4,800 - 27,300
5,580 - 14,070
3,960 - 21,070
5,850 - 19,540
6,000 - 18,310
6,900 - 32,370
6,100 - 40,700
5,880 - 14,025
6,090 - 28,200
5,880 - 14,025
8,330 - 16,000
5,060 - 20,930
5,160 - 19,990
6,300 - 14,050
6,300 - 29,410
6,300 - 14,050
5,050 - 7,575
5,980 - 15,675
5,050 - 17,925
6,560 - 16,550
9,450 - 15,120
5,670 - 9,070
3,850 - 16,400
7,400 - 14,900
3,850 - 29,900
4,200 - 20,550
5,000 - 20,550
5,500 - 8,300
9,500 - 17,650
Musculoskeletal system includes joints on one side (shoulder/elbow/wrist/hip/knee/ankle) and spine.
Please refer to each hospital to get a full and detailed list of available MRI scans.
DOIng an MRI in a clinic / imaging centre
Several private clinics / imaging centres offer MRI scans. Here are some of them:
Does insurance usually cover MRI costs?
According to health insurance expert Alea, MRI costs are reimbursed in Hong Kong when prescribed by a medical doctor and used to make a diagnosis for treatment. That being said, most local plans in Hong Kong impose an annual limit and depending on how high the MRI costs are, you may have to pay any outstanding amount out-of-pocket. As for high-end medical plans, most cover MRI costs in full without any sub-limit. When reading your health insurance table of benefits, look for the following categories: Diagnostic scans and tests, Brain and Body scans, Diagnostics, or Advanced Medical Imaging. If you have any health insurance questions, contact an advisor at lea at [email protected].
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should never be relied upon for specific advice.