Knee MRI Scan

Patient receiving knee MRI scan in MRI machine

What is a knee 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 knee MRI scan looks specifically at your knee and provides detailed images of the knee joint, including bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and blood vessels from all angles. By inspecting the various images of the knee captured during the knee MRI scan, a doctor will be able to see if there are any injuries or damages which may require further attention.

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

  • Damaged cartilage
  • Kneecap fracture or injury
  • Meniscus tear
  • ACL tear
  • Torn ligaments
    • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
    • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
    • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
    • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infections
  • Damage from arthritis
  • Fluid build-up in the knee joint
  • Bone fractures not visible on X-rays
  • Complications or pain following a knee surgery
  • Tumors in the bones and joints

A knee 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 knee MRI if a surgical procedure is needed or to monitor progress after knee surgery.

Knee MRI with or without contrast?

Knee MRI scans can be performed with or without contrast. In a knee MRI with contrast, a contrast agent (a colored dye) is injected into the patient to highlight the joint structure in more detail. The contrast agent is injected into a vein in the arm and quickly circulates throughout the body, enhancing the scanned area in the MRI images.

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 knee 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 knee MRI cost?

The average cost of a knee 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
knee MRI cost


Knee MRI at
First Look MRI

Knee 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 knee 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 knee 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

Knee MRI results and video report

The first question most people ask is, "how long does it take to get results from my knee 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 knee 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 knee 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

Knee MRI scan procedure

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

Before the scan

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

You won’t experience any claustrophobia as only the lower half of your body will enter the MRI machine. 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 knee 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

During the knee MRI scan, the scanning table will slide your lower body into the magnet. You will be asked to keep the lower half of your body perfectly still. Coils (special devices that capture the signal needed to create the images of the specific body part) may be placed around your knee.

During the knee 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 Knee MRI

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