Cervical Spine MRI Scan

Patient receiving an MRI scan in MRI machine

What is a cervical spine MRI scan?

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan makes use of a combination of radio waves and magnets to capture images of the inside of the body. No surgical incision is necessary and it can be performed on any part of the body. Unlike X-ray or CT scans which only take pictures of your bones, an MRI scan allows you to see all the bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and blood vessels of the body.

A cervical spine MRI scan looks specifically at your bones and discs in the neck (cervical spine) and provides detailed images to evaluate for disc herniations, arthritis, and spinal cord abnormalities. With a cervical spine MRI scan, the radiologist will be able to determine if there is a treatable problem in the neck and which disc level is problem.

A cervical spine MRI scan can identify a range of problems, including:

  • Bone tumors
  • Bone infection
  • Arthritis
  • Bulging discs
  • Herniated discs
    • Collapsed discs
    • Fractures
    • Subluxations
    • Scoliosis and kyphosis)
  • Soft tissue abnormalities
  • Craniocervical junction

A cervical spine MRI scan can quickly and effectively identify damage or injuries caused by work or sports-related activities or accidents. Your doctor may also order a cervical spine MRI to help determine how best to treat your neck pain or radiculopathy (pain or weakness in upper extremities). Based on the findings, you care provider can determine whether you need conservative treatment with massage, physical therapy or chiropractic manipulation, a pain management procedure such as an epidural steroid injection or nerve root block, or a surgical procedure to remove a disc herniation or bony spur.

Cervical spine MRI with or without contrast?

Cervical spine MRI scans can be performed with or without contrast. In a cervical spine MRI with contrast, a contrast agent (a colored dye) is injected to highlight inflamed structures. The contrast agent is injected into a vein in the arm and quickly circulates throughout the body, producing enhancement of tumor, inflammation, and infection.

Though very rare, patients can be allergic to the contrast liquid so it should only be administered if absolutely necessary. Adding contrast to an MRI scan significantly increases the cost so we always suggest checking with your doctor if it is absolutely necessary.

At First Look MRI we only perform cervical spine MRI scans without contrast. If you require a scan with contrast feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to recommend a trusted facility that can provide this service.

How much Does a cervical spine MRI cost?

The average cost of a cervical spine MRI scan in Atlanta is typically around $700, however, the price will depend greatly on your insurance, hospital, and location. Knee MRI scans are usually some of the cheapest and simplest, but others are usually a lot more expensive.

Besides your insurance provider and location, one of the main factors influencing cost will be your insurance deductible. Often insurance deductibles for an MRI scan will be much higher than what you would pay to book one outright. We suggest you do some research and inquire what your deductible would be before making a decision whether to go through your insurance or book a self-pay MRI scan.

At First Look MRI discounts are available for multiple scans, screening packages, and public servants. For more information see our pricing page.

National average
cervical spine MRI cost


Cervical spine MRI at
First Look MRI

Cervical Spine MRI $499

Save money on multiple scans

MRI with insurance

If you have an insurance plan with a high deductible, your knee MRI scan can easily cost you between $1,000 and $2,000, with prices reaching $2,500-$3000 at times. Not only are costs usually higher by going through insurance, but a doctor’s order or referral is usually required, adding even more cost and delaying the process even further.

Due to these high costs, long wait times, the complexity of the booking process, and the lengthy delays for MRI results, many patients prefer to pay cash for their MRI scan.

Cost of a cervical spine MRI without insurance

Many people think that out-of-pocket or self-pay MRI scans will be very expensive so don’t consider any option besides the insurance route. What most don’t know is that the self-pay route is often a lot cheaper, quicker, and easier than expensive insurance options. For example, a cervical spine MRI scan from First Look MRI costs only $499. You can usually book a same-day appointment and receiving your results in less than 24 hours.

We only provide MRI imaging services without insurance (self-pay), so the price you see is the only price you’ll pay, with no surprises or hidden costs.

What an AWESOME service!!! I scheduled an appointment and within a day I had an MRI done on my knee that showed exactly what was wrong. Now I know how to exercise without having to guess. What's better I got a video review of my MRI from the doctor.

Bob Grant

Bob Grant

1 month ago

Seriously the best experience you could ask for when having an MRI. The waiting room looks like a hotel lobby, the staff is super friendly, there was no wait, and my MRI with a personal video review by the doctor was waiting for me in my email by the time I got home.

Tracie Hicks

Tracie Hicks

2 months ago

Cervical spine MRI results and video report

The first question most people ask is, "how long does it take to get results from my MRI scan?" You'll want to receive your results as quickly as possible to present them to your doctor and we’ve got you covered. First Look MRI delivers reports via secure email within 24 hours, and in as little as 90 minutes with our STAT option.

Not only will your MRI scan results be delivered quickly, but you won’t have to know how to read an MRI of the cervical spine or necessarily return to a doctor, as an experienced radiologist will send you not one, but two reports. One will be a technical, written report for your doctor, while the other will be a video report in simple-to-understand terms so you can know right away if something requires further attention.

Your MRI video report

With your First Look Video Report™ you will get detailed findings of your cervical spine MRI scan explained in simple, non-technical terms so that you, the patient, can understand any possible issues and take control of the next steps. You will be able to decide if you want to pursue further medical diagnosis or treatment and have a good idea of the cause of any pain or symptoms.

By not billing insurance providers First Look MRI is free to innovate and our MRI scan video report is a great example of how we want to change the medical services world by giving more power to our patients.

Watch a sample of our
personalized video reports

Cervical spine MRI scan procedure

Below is a brief explanation of what to expect during your cervical spine MRI scan:

Before the scan

You may eat or drink anything you like before your MRI scan as it will not affect the results in any way.

If you experience pain when lying on their back for more than 30 minutes, you can ask your doctor to prescribe you pain or relaxation medication.

Before you enter the room for your MRI exam you’ll need to remove all items from your pockets as well as any metallic objects you may have on you. This can include shoes, belt buckles, jewelry, dentures, bras with metallic clips, or clothing with zippers. MRI machines use extremely strong magnets so all metal objects are forbidden. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown if you are wearing clothing with metal zippers, rivets, or buttons. We provide a locker in which you can store your clothing and valuables while you’re inside the scanner.

During the scan

A coil (a special device that captures the signal needed to create the images)will be placed around your neck and the table will slide your head, neck, and shoulders into the MRI. You will be asked to keep your body perfectly still and try not to swallow.

During the MRI scan you will not feel anything but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds.

The MRI exam takes approximately 30-45 minutes and the technologist will always be able to see and hear you throughout. If you experience any discomfort or prefer to pause/cancel the scan you will be able to communicate this easily and it will be done immediately.

After the scan

When the scan is complete, you can resume your normal activities and even drive home, provided you haven’t taken any relaxation or pain medication. If you have taken relaxation medication you will need someone to drive you home.

Your MRI results, along with your video report, will be emailed to you and to your doctor (if you have requested we do so), within 24 hours.

Reading a cervical spine MRI

Dr. Brian Gay provides an easy to understand explanation of how to read a cervical spine MRI.