What are the common CT scan side effects?

In the United States there are over 70 million CT scans performed annually, reports the National Institute of Health. It’s important to know that, for some patients,  there are side effects of undergoing a CT scan. Knowing what to look for before, during, and after your CT scan, especially if you have an adverse reaction, can be lifesaving. For some people, the likelihood of side effects occurring from a CT scan increases if they are allergic to the contrast dye used in some types of scans.

Learn more about CT scan side effects so you can prepare for your upcoming medical procedure.

What is a CT scan?

CT stands for “computed tomography,” and it uses a specific type of x-ray equipment that combines with computer imaging to get a cross-sectional look at your body. An x-ray is only able to detect bones with the brief outline of some organs, bones, and other tissues in the body. In comparison, a CT scan can give a view of organs, blood vessels, and bones. A physician can see cross-sections of your body with a CT scan as the imaging solution.

Medical scans and imaging are “directly linked to greater life expectancy and declining cancer death rates. Medical imaging exams are also generally less expensive and safer than invasive procedures, such as exploratory surgery,” reports Mayo Clinic. The potential for diagnosis and life-saving intervention that is possible after a CT scan does outweigh the side effects.

What are the most common CT scan side effects?

There are a few potential CT scan side effects that you should consider. One of the primary reasons for the effects is the exposure to radiation. A second culprit for causing side effects is the contrast dye used in certain scan types. The most common CT scan side effects are:

  • Allergic reactions to the dye
  • Anxiety pertaining to the procedure
  • Birth defects
  • Increased risk of cancer

CT scan side effect: allergic reactions to the contrast dye

The most common CT scan side effect is a specific form of allergic reaction to the contrast dye. There are two commonly used dyes for CT scans: barium and iodine-based dye. If you are sensitive or allergic to iodine, a reaction could involve everything from a rash to anaphylaxis, reports the University of California, San Francisco. Some of the measures you can verify your doctor is taking could include:

  • Noting any risk factors for a reaction like allergies and asthma
  • Using a preventative medication prior to the contrast for patients with an increased risk
  • Adding the minimum amount of contrast material possible for the imaging
  • Discontinuing the use of certain kidney medications prior to the scan
  • Making sure your IV is also hydrating to prevent any kidney damage

CT scan side effect: anxiety is a CT scan side effect that impacts many patients

Anxiety is one of the most common CT scan side effects that impacts people of all ages. For many patients, the anxiety is due to the uncertainty of diagnosis while others are claustrophobic in an enclosed space.

CT scans to track the recurrence of previously detected medical issues also cause anxiety. A study tracking long-term cancer survivors found there is real anxiety with CT scans. Also, the study, which was published in the Annals of Oncology, reports that “routine surveillance scans exacerbate underlying anxiety symptoms and fear of recurrence in survivors of aggressive lymphoma.”

Although this CT scan side effect is treatable with medication, doctor-patient communication, and coping techniques, it can be an issue for some patients.

CT scan side effect: birth defects

There is a known correlation between radiation and birth defects. Because of this, a pregnant woman should not get a CT scan,  especially during the first three months of pregnancy. “Birth defects, which are often believed to be a major concern, only occur with much higher dose exposure in early pregnancy (the first three months),” says the Emergency Care Institute of New South Wales. The risk increases if the scan is on the abdomen. If there is any chance of pregnancy, the doctor may suggest a different test or put off the procedure for the duration of the pregnancy.

CT scan side effect: the risk of developing cancer from CT scans

In a Washington Post article, Sandra Boodman reveals that “like X-rays and PET scans, CT scans use ionizing radiation, which can damage DNA and cause cancer. Two other imaging technologies, MRI scans, and ultrasound do not use radiation.” There is a known medical risk of developing cancer after increased exposure to radiation and scans, reports Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

It is important to note there is a particular risk for children exposed to a CT scan. In a study conducted by the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University found that children and young adults did have “a small increased risk of leukemia and brain tumors in the decade following their first scan.” However, the risk of a CT scan is minimal compared to the diagnostic potential.

Ask your doctor questions about the procedure including:

  • Will there be more scans in the future?
  • Is the test medically necessary?
  • Is there another option that does not include radiation?
  • What are the specific concerns for my child?

Researchers believe that CT scans affect children more because of the rapid cell growth and division their bodies are undergoing at a young age. The National Cancer Institute estimates that the additional risk of developing fatal cancer from a scan is in 1 in 2,000, while the lifetime risk of dying of cancer is 1 in 5.

“Another risk of X-ray imaging is possible reactions associated with an intravenously injected contrast agent, or “dye”, that is sometimes used to improve visualization,” says the FDA.

The benefits outweigh the side effects of a CT scan

If your doctor does recommend a CT scan, it important that you weigh the ups and downs of the scan. In most cases, a CT scan is worth it in order to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. As an educated patient, be sure to ask your physician if the CT scan is necessary for diagnosis. The only way to prevent the side effects is to reduce your exposure while also caring for your health.

Need a CT scan but worried about the cost? You’re not alone. New Choice Health helps patients find fair prices for their CT scans, among other medical procedures. Compare facilities to find a fair, affordable cost for your CT scan today.

Common uses and reasons for a CT scan

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a diagnostic imaging test used to examine the body’s inner organs and tissues. During a CT scan, the x-ray machine takes cross-sectional images of the inside of the body. A radiologist can combine these images to create a three-dimensional picture of your internal structures.

A CT scan can be used to gain insight into the condition of your soft tissues, organs, blood vessels, and bones. Because this scan takes a series of images, it gives physicians a clearer view of these structures than a normal x-ray. This scan can be used to diagnose and monitor certain cancers and diseases, as well as the effects of trauma and other disorders.

During your CT scan, you will lay still on a narrow table while the machine rotates around you and takes images. You should be able to return to your normal activities immediately after the scan. However, if you have a CT scan with contrast, you may be asked to wait at the imaging facility for a short time after your exam to make sure that there are no adverse reactions to the contrast material.

Contrast material is a special dye used in some CT scans to give a clearer image of certain internal tissues, such as blood vessels and intestines. This dye can be taken orally, with an injection, or by enema. Side effects of a CT scan with contrast are rare. However, your doctor will probably tell you to drink plenty of fluids after the scan to assist your kidneys in removing the dye from your body.

Below, learn about the most common reasons for a CT scan and why your doctor may recommend each one.

Reasons for a CT scan of the abdomen

Abdominal CT scans are used to gain insight into undiagnosed pain, injury, and disease in the organs and structures of your abdominal cavity. Additionally, an abdominal CT scan can be used to examine your organs, intestines, and colon. Common reasons for a CT scan of the abdomen are monitoring and diagnosing the following conditions:

One of the other reasons for a CT scan of the abdomen is detecting cancers in the chest and abdomen because the resulting images give physicians insight into a tumor’s size, exact location, and interaction with surrounding tissue.

An abdominal CT scan may also be used to assist in certain medical procedures. A physician may use the results of a scan to guide biopsies and abscess drainages. The imaging test can also be used to plan for and evaluate cancer treatments and organ surgeries.

Reasons for a CT scan of the pelvis

A pelvic CT scan is similar to an abdominal CT scan, but it is used to examine the pelvic organs such as the bladder, lymph nodes, hip bones, and reproductive organs. Common reasons for a CT scan of the pelvis are evaluating and diagnosing:

  • Tumors and abscesses
  • Undiagnosed pelvic pain
  • Certain types of cancers
  • Kidney stones
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Trauma to the pelvic bones and organs

Like an abdominal CT scan, this imaging test can also help guide physicians during biopsies and other medical procedures. It is also used when planning cancer treatments and major surgeries.

Reasons for a CT scan of the head

In your physician has recommended a cranial CT scan, also called a brain scan, it’s because they need detailed images of the inside of your head. These images can include your brain, skull, sinuses, and eye sockets.

Common reasons for a CT scan of the head include monitoring and diagnosing:

  • Brain aneurysms or hemorrhaging in the brain
  • Swelling, infections, tumors, or atrophy in the brain tissue
  • The effects of a stroke
  • Abnormal fluid in the skull
  • Abnormal blood vessel activity
  • Birth defects
  • Injury to the face, brain, or skull

Your physician may recommend a cranial CT scan to diagnose the cause of:

  • Unexplained fainting or headaches
  • Seizures
  • Loss of hearing or vision
  • Sudden speech difficulty or behavioral and cognitive changes

Cranial CT scans can also be used to guide other medical procedures, such as biopsies.

Reasons for a CT angiography

A CT angiography is used to gain insight into the workings of your blood vessels and tissues. If you’re getting a CT angiography, you will probably be administered a contrast material, either orally or intravenously, before the procedure. Contrast dyes are generally safe drugs that are used to make certain internal structures appear more clearly on x-ray images.

This imaging test can be used to examine organs and blood vessels in any part of the body for injury, blockages, and other abnormalities. Additionally, a CT angiography can help physicians prepare the best course of action for upcoming surgeries. It can also be used after major surgeries to detect any aneurysms and disease, as well as evaluate the success of stent placement.

How much should you pay for your CT scan?

No matter the reason your physician recommends a CT scan, it can be a valuable diagnostic tool. Don’t let worry about the cost of a CT scan keep you from scheduling your test. New Choice Health has compiled cost data for CT scans in healthcare facilities across the United States. The cost of your CT scan will vary depending on the reason for the scan, where you choose to have the scan done, and whether you have health insurance.  Use New Choice Health’s cost comparison tool to find the best price for a CT scan in your area.

How much does a CT scan cost?

The average cost of a CT scan in the United States is $3,275, though prices can range from $300 to $6,750.

One factor that can greatly affect the cost of your CT scan is whether you have it performed in an inpatient facility, like a hospital, or an outpatient surgery center.

Outpatient centers are just as safe as hospitals but could save you thousands on your medical bill.

Based on our data, the target fair price for a CT scan is $525, whether you have health insurance or not.

  • National Average: $3,275
  • National Range: $300 – $6,750+
  • Outpatient Facility Average: $525
  • Inpatient Facility Average: $4,750
  • Target Fair Price: $525

Your doctor may recommend a CT scan for a variety of reasons. Below, you’ll learn the costs associated with each type of CT scan, as well as what factors into the cost of a CT scan and how to find a fair price for your procedure.

CT Scan Cost Averages Around the Country

Location Price Range
New York, NY CT Scan Cost Average $550 – $1,400
Los Angeles, CA CT Scan Cost Average $460 – $1,200
Chicago, IL CT Scan Cost Average $550 – $1,450
Miami, FL CT Scan Cost Average $500 – $1,300
Dallas, TX CT Scan Cost Average $460 – $1,200
Houston, TX CT Scan Cost Average $525 – $1,350
Philadelphia, PA CT Scan Cost Average $525 – $1,350
Philadelphia, PA MRI Cost Average $600 – $1,550
Atlanta, GA CT Scan Cost Average $550 – $1,400
Washington, DC CT Scan Cost Average $525 – $1,350

Specific CT Scan Procedures and National Cost Averages

Procedure Price Range
CT Bone Density Scan Cost Average $300 – $3,800
Brain CT Scan Cost Average $825 – $4,800
CT Ear Cost Average $350 – $7,700
CT Maxillofacial (Sinus) Cost Average $600 – $6,000
CT Neck Cost Average $1,000 – $7,600
CT Spine and Neck Cost Average $1,000 – $9,300
Thoracic CT Scan – Thorax Cost Average $1,050 – $7,800
Chest CT Scan Cost Average $675 – $8,600
CT Scan of Abdomen Cost Average $1,750 – $9,500
Lumbar Spine CT Cost Average $750 – $10,200
CT Pelvis Scan Cost Average $1,700 – $10,200
CT Shoulder, Arm, Wrist, Hand (CT Upper Extremity) Cost Average $625 – $8,400
CT Foot, Ankle, Leg, Hip (CT Lower Extremity) Cost Average $650 – $11,200
Heart CT Scan Cost Average $625 – $12,700
CT Angiography – Head Cost Average $1,500 – $10,700
CT Angiography – Neck Cost Average $1,700 – $10,400
CT Angiography – Chest Cost Average $1,650 – $18,500
CT Angiography – Abdomen Cost Average $1,750 – $19,400
CT Angiography – Pelvis Cost Average $1,500 – $10,500
CT Angiography – Shoulder, Arm, Wrist, Hand Cost Average $650 – $10,100
CT Angiography – Foot, Ankle, Leg, Hip Cost Average $1,500 – $20,400
CT Angiography – Aorta Cost Average $1,750 – $13,600

Which factors affect the cost of a CT scan?

Many things can affect the cost of health care, regardless of which type of procedure you’re getting. Generally, there are three factors that cause healthcare costs to vary:

  • Facility setting — Where you have your medical procedure done affects the cost. Having your scan done in a hospital as an inpatient costs far more than having the same procedure done in an outpatient center. Since inpatient facilities tend to cost more to run, patients end up paying more for care.
  • Insured or uninsured — The price of medical procedures can vary between insurance providers. The change in price largely depends on how much of the procedure your insurance plan covers, if any at all. If you don’t have health insurance, you can expect to pay for the full cost of the procedure out-of-pocket.
  • Location — The region, state, and even city you live in can affect the cost of your medical procedure. If you live in a rural area with fewer facilities to choose from, you can expect to pay more than you would if you lived in a city with many providers. Traveling for a medical procedure can be a great money-saving option.

Inpatient vs. outpatient facility cost differences

The cost of a CT scan will vary greatly between inpatient and outpatient facilities. The national average cost for the procedure at inpatient facilities is $4,750, while the same procedure at outpatient facilities averaged $525.

Insured vs. uninsured cost differences

Insured patients have historically paid less than uninsured patients for a CT scan, especially when they stay in-network. When a patient has insurance, they share payment responsibility with their insurance company. For patients who don’t have health insurance, the cost of a CT scan falls on them and, ultimately, costs more.

In-network vs. out-of-network cost differences

In-network refers to a health care provider or facility that has a contracted rate with a health insurance company. This rate is usually much lower than what someone would pay out-of-pocket; in-network providers are almost always cheaper than out-of-network providers. This does not apply to patients who are uninsured—without insurance, you shoulder the full cost of your medical procedure.  

Payment responsibility

Nearly everyone who has a CT scan will have to pay some of the cost out-of-pocket. Uninsured patients will be responsible for the total cost of their procedure.

Patients who do have health insurance will be responsible for paying their deductible, copay, and coinsurance amounts. The amount of each of these costs depends on your health plan.

More factors that affect the cost of a CT scan

  • Contrast materials — Your physician might request a CT scan with contrast, especially if the scan is focused on soft tissues such as blood vessels and organs. You will need a special dye, called a contrast material, before this type of scan. Side effects from contrast dyes are rare. Ask if this contrast material is included in the total cost of your procedure.
  • Additional office visits — In some cases, you may be charged a separate fee for an initial consultation with the physician before the procedure. You will have a  follow-up appointment soon after the scan to discuss your results. Ask if this follow up visit is included in the total cost of your procedure.

Your CT scan checklist

1. Review the total cost of your procedure with your physician. Ask them to explain what each cost is for and keep a record. If you get a medical bill that’s higher than you expected, this information will come in handy.
2. Ask your physician if they can perform the procedure in an outpatient setting.
3. Check that all providers are in-network. Sometimes a provider who treats you will be out-of-network (this often happens with anesthesiologists). You can avoid this by asking your physician whether all of the providers who will treat you are in-network for your insurance.
4. Ask what the typical cost is if the physician finds other areas that need to be examined during your procedure.

Finding a fair price for your CT scan

No matter which imaging test your physician recommends, searching for the best value can be confusing. The national average cost for a CT scan is $5,750, but it’s not always easy to figure out what different healthcare facilities charge for the procedure. New Choice Health cuts through the conflicting information for you, so you can find out the price you should pay. Use New Choice Health’s comparison tool to find the best price for your CT scan today.

What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a diagnostic imaging test used to examine the bones, organs, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside the body. During a CT scan, x-rays are taken from many different angles. Then, a computer combines the images to create a cross-sectional picture. This process can be repeated multiple times to create a three-dimensional image of the inside of the body.

CT scans can give insight into the condition of your soft tissues, organs, blood vessels, and bones. The series of images taken during this scan give physicians a clearer view of these structures than a normal x-ray. A CT scan can be used to diagnose and monitor bone and joint problems as well as certain cancers and diseases. It is also used to detect internal bleeding and blood clots.

CT scans are painless procedures that are typically done at outpatient centers. You will be awake for the scan, which can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. CT scan side effects are rare, and most patients are able to go home immediately after the procedure. Your physician will be able to interpret your results immediately. If you visited an imaging center for your scan, a radiologist will examine the images and send the results to your physician.

Are there alternatives to a CT scan?

A CT scan creates detailed images of the inside of your body. These images help your physician diagnose and monitor a wide number of conditions. If your doctor tells you that you need a CT scan, it’s probably because it is the best imaging test for your situation. There are two alternatives to a CT scan. However, you’ll want to check with your doctor to see if either are a good option for you

  • Magnetic Resonance ImagingMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging test that uses radio waves and large magnets to take detailed images of the body’s organs and internal structures without the ionizing radiation needed for x-rays and CT scans.
  • X-Ray — An x-ray is an imaging test that allows physicians to see two-dimensional images of a patient’s bones and soft tissues. X-ray images are not as detailed as those from other imaging tests.

The type of procedure you get will depend on your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations. You can always ask your doctor why they’re recommending any procedure. If you’re unsure about their recommendations, feel free to get a second opinion.

How much should you pay for your CT scan?

Finding a fair cost for you CT scan can be challenging. There are many factors that can affect how much you pay. These include where you live, whether you’re insured or not, and who you choose to perform your scan. New Choice Health can help you understand how these variables impact the cost of your scan. You can then use the information available to find the best price for your procedure. Visit the New Choice Health CT scan cost page to learn how to find a fair price for your CT scan today.

 

PET scan vs. CT scan: what are the differences?

Doctors recommend PET scans and CT scans for patients on a regular basis. The number of CT scans performed annually is now more than 70 million according to the Center for Radiological Research. Annual PET scans are done less often at about 2 million annually.

There are several key differences in a PET scan vs. CT scan. From the purpose behind ordering the test to the way they are used in treatment, these scans have the potential to reveal the way your body is functioning for diagnosis, long-term treatment, and management of health conditions. Below, learn more about the two types of scans and when they’re used.

What is a PET scan?

Positron emission tomography, commonly referred to as a PET scan, is a type of medical imaging used for evaluating organ function and tissue function. PET scans are considered nuclear medicine because they use small doses of radioactive substances to track movement throughout the body. The scan measures bodily functions including glucose level, metabolism, oxygenation in the blood, and blood flow.

One distinct feature of the PET scan is its potential to give information at the molecular level. These radiotracers combine with a special camera and a computer to read the results. Radiotracers are added to the body in more than one way, either through IV, swallowing or as a gas.

What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography, or CT scan, uses a form of x-ray equipment in combination with computer imaging to see cross-sections of the body. Mayo Clinic states, “a CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical, or radiation treatment.”

CT scans begin with 2D imaging that is used to create 3D cross-sections to reveal the organs, blood vessels, and bones. There is a slight exposure to radiation as a result of the scan and some make use of contrast dye (typically made of iodine) to highlight certain parts of your body.

PET and CT scans are often used in combination with one another

When combined, a PET scan and a CT scan, also called a PET/CT scan, make for a powerful diagnostic tool that can be used to diagnose and monitor various medical conditions. Image fusion occurs when doctors take a PET scan and superimpose a CT scan in order to get a more comprehensive view. Radiologists can interpret a PET/CT scan in one overlayed image and be more exact in their treatment plan.  Interpreting in one message allows for a radiologist to assess two types of functions at once.

In some cases, both scans can be completed at the same time. It depends on the capability of the facility and a medical need for both scans. “PET/CT provides the anatomical framework within which the biology of cancer can be visualized by PET. This powerful combination will be used to further refine diagnostic, prognostic, intermediate endpoint, and predictive biomarkers in cancer patients,” states the University of California in Current Radiological Reports.  

PET scan vs. CT scan: contrasting agents

A major difference between a PET scan and a CT scan is the contrasting agents used in the body. A PET scan uses small amounts of radioactive substances, called contrast materials, for contrast within the body. While it sounds scary, the tracer typically leaves your body a few hours after the scan. In the United States, all radiotracers used in PET scans are approved by the FDA after clinical studies.

Sometimes, a CT scan makes use of iodinated contrast agents. These are administered through an IV and move throughout the bloodstream. According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings Journal, “by far the most successful and widely applied contrast agents in use today are the iodinated contrast agents (ICAs)…approximately 75 million doses are given worldwide each year.”

When compared directly, the CT scan and PET scan look similar because they both involve the use of contrasting agents, but the type you get depends on your scan.

PET scan vs. CT scan: diagnostic purposes

Physicians order each type of scan for different purposes. While they can be ordered in combination with one another, PET scans and CT scans do have distinct diagnostic purposes. Some of the reasons for ordering a PET scan, according to Johns Hopkins, include:

  • Diagnosis of Parkinson’s, dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Alzheimer’s
  • Look for cancer spreading after an original diagnosis
  • To check if cancer treatment is working effectively
  • Assess the blood flow being directed to the heart
  • Analysis for lung damage or lesions

The symptoms presented by the patient may also require a CT scan. According to Mayo Clinic, a doctor may order a CT scan to:

  • Detect bone injuries on delicate parts of the body
  • Check for soft tissue damage to the body
  • Find tumors before and during surgery
  • During cancer treatment for chemotherapy response and radiation dosage
  • Discover skeletal diseases based off of bone density
  • Check for brain trauma or damage, potentially post-accident
  • Find the exact location of a tumor

PET scan vs. CT scan: use in cancer imaging and treatment

Oncologists may order both PET scans and CT scans for their cancer patients. Both scans can help monitor the impact of cancer treatment on the body. “The PET scan shows the presence of cancer cells throughout the body but a CT scan will reveal abnormal tissue and detail images,” says Cleveland Clinic. It is now common for cancer patients to visit PET/CT imaging centers. This allows the opportunity for patients to get both tests at the same time. 

PET scan vs. CT scan: what should you pay?

New Choice Health allows you to search for and compare facilities for the medical procedure you need, which can save you between hundreds and thousands of dollars. Whether you have health insurance or are paying out-of-pocket, use New Choice Health to find a fair price on your PET scan or CT scan today.

How much does a PET scan cost?

The average PET scan cost in the United States is $5,750, though prices can range from $1,250 to $9,225.

One factor that can greatly affect the cost of your procedure is whether you have it performed in an inpatient facility, like a hospital, or an outpatient surgery center.

Outpatient centers are just as safe as hospitals but could save you thousands on your medical bill.

Based on our data, the target fair price for a PET scan is $2,000, whether you have health insurance or not.

  • National Average: $5,750
  • National Range: $1,250 – $9,225+
  • Outpatient Facility Average: $2,550
  • Inpatient Facility Average: $7,275
  • Target Fair Price: $2,000

Below, you’ll learn what factors can affect the cost of your PET scan, as well as how to find a fair price for your procedure.

PET Scan Cost Averages Around the Country

Location Price Range
Atlanta, GA PET Scan Cost Average $1,650 – $4,300
Chicago, IL PET Scan Cost Average $1,500 – $3,900
Dallas, TX PET Scan Cost Average $1,350 – $3,500
Houston, TX PET Scan Cost Average $1,500 – $3,900
Phoenix, AZ PET Scan Cost Average $1,500 – $3,900
Los Angeles, CA PET Scan Cost Average $1,700 – $4,400
Miami, FL PET Scan Cost Average $1,450 – $3,800
New York, NY PET Scan Cost Average $1,550 – $3,900
Philadelphia, PA PET Scan Cost Average $1,500 – $3,900
Washington, DC PET Scan Cost Average $1,550 – $4,000

Specific PET Scan Procedures and National Cost Averages

Procedure Price Range
Whole Body PET Scan Cost Average $3,300 – $12,000
PET Scan (Skull to Mid-Thigh) Cost Average $3,200 – $12,700
PET Scan (Chest to Head Neck) Cost Average $3,000 – $10,700
PET Scan Heart Cost Average $2,850 – $24,200
PET Scan Brain Cost Average $2,250 – $10,700

Which factors can affect your PET scan cost?

Many things can affect the cost of health care, regardless of which type of procedure you’re getting. Generally, there are three factors that cause healthcare costs to vary:

  • Facility setting — Where you have your medical procedure done affects the cost. No matter which type of imaging scan your doctor has recommended, having the procedure done in a hospital as an inpatient costs far more than having the same procedure done in an outpatient center. Since inpatient facilities tend to cost more to run, patients end up paying more for care.
  • Insured or uninsured — The price of medical procedures can vary between insurance providers. The change in price largely depends on how much of the procedure your insurance plan covers, if any at all. If you don’t have health insurance, you can expect to pay for the full cost of the procedure out-of-pocket.
  • Location — The region, state, and even the city you live in can affect the cost of your medical procedure. If you live in a rural area with fewer facilities to choose from, you can expect to pay more than you would if you lived in a city with many providers. Traveling for a medical procedure can be a great money-saving option.

Inpatient vs. outpatient facility cost differences

The cost of a PET scan will vary greatly between inpatient and outpatient facilities. The national average cost for the procedure at inpatient facilities is $7,275, while the same procedure at outpatient facilities averaged $2,550.

Insured vs. uninsured cost differences

Insured patients have historically paid less than uninsured patients for a PET scan, especially when they stay in-network. When a patient has insurance, they share payment responsibility with their insurance company. For patients who don’t have health insurance, the cost of their PET scan falls on them and, ultimately, costs more.

In-network vs. out-of-network cost differences

In-network refers to a health care provider or facility that has a contracted rate with a health insurance company. This rate is usually much lower than what someone would pay out-of-pocket; in-network providers are almost always cheaper than out-of-network providers. This does not apply to patients who are uninsured—without insurance, you shoulder the full cost of your medical procedure.  

Payment responsibility

Nearly everyone who has a PET scan will have to pay some of the cost out-of-pocket. Uninsured patients will be responsible for the total cost of their procedure.

Patients who do have health insurance will be responsible for paying their deductible, copay, and coinsurance amounts. The amount of each of these costs depends on your health plan.

More factors that affect your PET scan cost

  • Prescriptions — A physician may prescribe painkillers or a sedative before the procedure. To avoid high prescription prices, make sure the prescriptions you receive are covered by your insurance policy. You can also ask if there is a generic version of the same medicine, which can help lower the cost.
  • Additional office visits — In some cases, you may be charged a separate fee for an initial consultation with the physician before the procedure. You will have a  follow-up appointment soon after the scan to discuss your results. Ask if this follow up visit is included in the total cost of your procedure.

Your PET scan checklist

1. Review the total cost of your procedure with your physician. Ask them to explain what each cost is for and keep a record. If you get a medical bill that’s higher than you expected, this information will come in handy.
2. 
Ask your physician if they can perform the procedure in an outpatient setting.
3. Check that all providers are in-network. Sometimes a provider who treats you will be out-of-network (this often happens with anesthesiologists). You can avoid this by asking your physician whether all of the providers who will treat you are in-network for your insurance.
4. Ask what the typical cost is if the physician finds other areas that need to be examined during your procedure.

Finding a fair price for your PET scan

While the national average PET scan cost is $5,750 but the fair price is much less — $2,000. New Choice Health takes the guesswork out of health care by allowing you to compare facilities and make sure you’re getting the fair price for your procedure. Use New Choice Health’s comparison tool to save money on your PET scan.

 

What is a PET scan?

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a diagnostic imaging test used to examine the inner workings of a patient’s organs and tissues. Before a PET scan, the patient is given a radioactive tracer. This tracer travels through the body and gathers in areas with high levels of chemical activity. Due to the presence of the tracer, these areas show brightly in the images created during the scan. This gives your physician a unique view of the function of your organs.

A PET scan can be used to detect and evaluate certain types of cancer and brain disorders. It can also point out areas of decreased blood flow to the heart. A PET scan can help your doctor evaluate your body’s structures and functions at a cellular level. Because of this, it can be used for early detection of certain diseases.

PET scans are typically done at an outpatient center, and most people may go home immediately after the procedure. You will be awake during your scan. However, your physician may prescribe a mild sedative to help with claustrophobia or back pain. Finally, a radiologist will examine the images and send the results to your physician.

Are there alternatives to a PET scan?

A PET scan gives your physician insight into how your organs are functioning at a cellular level. If your doctor tells you that you need a PET scan, it’s probably because they need to measure something that other tests are less likely to pick up. This may include blood flow, oxygen intake, or glucose metabolism. There are two alternatives to a PET scan. However, you’ll want to check with your doctor to see if either are a good option for you.

  • Magnetic Resonance ImagingMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging test that uses radio waves and large magnets to take detailed images of the body’s organs and internal structures without the ionizing radiation needed for x-rays and CT scans.
  • Computed TomographyComputed tomography (CT or CAT) is an imaging test that uses x-ray technology to take a series of two-dimensional images of the patient’s body from different angles. The images are then combined to create a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body that can be used by a physician to diagnose and assess the patient’s condition. Learn more about the differences between a PET scan and a CT scan.

The type of procedure you get will depend on your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations. Feel free to ask your doctor why they’re recommending any procedure. If you’re unsure about their recommendations, feel free to get a second opinion.

How much should you pay for your PET scan?

The cost of your PET scan will vary depending on where you live, whether you have health insurance, and a variety of other factors. However, it can be difficult to determine just how much those factors influence the price that you pay for your procedure. New Choice Health makes it easy for you by comparing cost data from healthcare facilities in your area. Visit New Choice Health’s PET scan cost information page to find a fair price for your procedure today.

Wrist surgery recovery: what to expect

Wrist surgery recovery is a straightforward process but only if you follow the directions of your physician. Wrist surgery comes with guidelines for post-surgery care which may involve physical therapy, pain management, and a splint or cast. Your body has suffered a considerable trauma and will require recovery and rehabilitation to get back in motion. After your wrist surgery, there are several precautions you should take.

More than anything, you should follow your physician’s guidelines after your wrist surgery. Every injury, surgeon, and surgery is different. Because of this, you should follow your unique set of care instructions carefully.

Prevent complications during your wrist surgery recovery

The first 48 hours after surgery require a significant change in your activities. The first thing you may notice after any surgery, especially wrist surgery, is the discomfort at the surgery site. Although your injury has been treated, the pain will take some time to subside completely.

Immediately after wrist surgery, the National Institute of Health recommends taking these precautions:

  • Take your prescribed pain medication as directed. Do not drive when under the influence of the pain medication.
  • If pain or discomfort increases, follow up with your doctor or nurse.
  • Follow the instructions given to you about care for the incision. Avoid touching the area.
  • To prevent blood clots, resume movement after the surgery as soon as you can. In the case of wrist surgery, you should be up and active within a few days.
  • Eat as instructed by your doctor. Always drink plenty of fluids, take in fiber for your bowels, and add protein to promote healing.

Resume your daily activities with during your wrist surgery recovery

Because your body is used to moving without pain, it is easy to forget about your post-surgery physical restrictions and overextend yourself. Full recovery will take a few months, but you should pay special attention to your recovery for the first few weeks. Wrist surgery will not inhibit movement in the legs, torso, and head.  

While it may seem frustrating, the rate of wrist surgery recovery is rapid, with nearly all mobility being regained post-surgery. “Most patients will be able to perform most activities of daily living at about six weeks but with residual stiffness, with recovery of about 50% of their normal wrist motion,” according to the University of Washington.  

To both heal and strengthen, your wrist surgery recovery should include a mix of multiple therapies. A typical course of treatment prescribed by a doctor will include some or all of the following:  

  • A course of antibiotics
  • Pain management medication
  • Reduced movement and activity for up to three months
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Splinting or casting at a post-surgery appointment
  • Removal of splinting or casting
  • Physical therapy for motion recovery
  • Post-surgery x-rays about six weeks post-surgery

How long does pain last after wrist surgery?

The average wrist surgery recovery period is twelve weeks. It is not uncommon for patients to get concerned about how long the pain will last after wrist surgery. As a general rule, most patients have dull pain for about two months post-surgery with minor occurrences of severe pain happening with an accidental movement or overextension. Pain medication should be taken as prescribed, especially for the first few days after surgery.

In a study of patients throughout the one year following wrist surgery found that “the majority of patients experienced mild pain at rest and (very) severe high levels of pain with movement during the first two months following distal radius fracture.” Exceptionally high levels of pain could be a sign of a problem when paired with redness, swelling, or even drainage.

The care of casts and splints for wrist surgery patients

Recovering from wrist surgery often requires a cast or a splint. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that the radius (wrist) is the most commonly broken bone in the arm and a common form of treatment for this injury is a splint or cast. These items have their own set of care instructions. If ignored, you can find yourself with slower healing times, infections, and worse. To take care of your cast or splint:

  • Keep the splint or cast dry, because even a small hole can lead to moisture and infection.
  • Avoid sweating, dirty activities, and other hazards. While your wrist is recovering, a wrist or splint serves as a constant reminder to take it easy and avoid certain activities. Not only can these contaminate your cast, but you can also re-injure yourself.
  • Do not alter the structure of the cast. If a thread is hanging or padding is bothering you, you should not cut it. See your physician if you believe the cast or splint is on improperly.
  • Check for cracking to the cast or any issues to your skin surrounding the cast. Since you cannot see what is going on with your skin, look for redness or any raw skin around the cast.

Remember, you have suffered a serious injury so always err on the side of caution. Use your common sense when caring for your cast and if you notice its condition deteriorating, visit your doctor.

Physical therapy during your wrist surgery recovery

Physical therapy can help you regain mobility and restore your wrist strength. According to the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, it was found that “starting wrist motion within 3-5 days and strengthening exercises at two weeks after surgery can lead to earlier return to function for patients.” Some surgeons may not recommend physical therapy at this pace but the study found statistically significant results supporting the effects of wrist exercise. Get an individual assessment from a professional to determine the frequency and length of your physical therapy treatment.

Recover from wrist surgery quickly with proper care

After your wrist surgery, don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor with any questions or concerns. Your physician will work with you to find the recovery time that fits your specific situation. From the day of surgery to the final follow-up appointment, you should expect to be fully mobile again in just a short period of time!

Don’t let the stress of paying for your procedure affect your wrist surgery recovery. New Choice Health’s Orthopedic Surgery Assistance program helps uninsured and underinsured patients find affordable prices for the procedures they need. Learn more about New Choice Health’s Patient Assist program today to find out just how affordable your wrist surgery could be.

How much does wrist surgery cost?

The average wrist surgery cost in the United States is $11,800, though prices can range from $6,775 to $18,275.

One factor that can significantly affect the cost of your surgery is whether you have the procedure performed in an inpatient facility, like a hospital, or an outpatient surgery center.

Outpatient centers are just as safe as hospitals but could save you thousands on your medical bill.

Based on our data, the target fair price for wrist surgery is $8,875, whether you have health insurance or not.

  • National Average: $11,800
  • National Range: $6,775 – $18,275+
  • Outpatient Facility Average: $10,075
  • Inpatient Facility Average: $17,350
  • Target Fair Price: $8,875

Below, you’ll learn what factors into the cost of wrist surgery, as well as how to find a fair price for your procedure.

Wrist Surgery Cost Averages Around the Country

Location Price Range
Atlanta, GA Wrist Surgery Cost Average $1,900 – $5,200
Phoenix, AZ Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,175 – $5,900
Dallas, TX Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,025 – $5,600
Los Angeles, CA Wrist Surgery Cost Average $3,000 – $8,100
Chicago, IL Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,100 – $5,700
New York, NY Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,400 – $6,600
Miami, FL Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,100 – $5,700
Philadelphia, PA Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,400 – $6,500
Washington, DC Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,325 – $6,400
Houston, TX Wrist Surgery Cost Average $2,100 – $5,800

Specific Wrist Surgery Procedures and National Cost Averages

Procedure Price Range
Wrist/Hand Repair Cost Average $7,300 – $37,500

Which factors affect how much wrist surgery costs?

Many things can affect the cost of health care, regardless of which type of procedure you’re getting. Generally, three factors cause healthcare costs to vary:

  • Facility setting — Where you have your medical procedure done affects the cost. Having your surgery done in a hospital as an inpatient costs far more than having the same procedure done in an outpatient center. Since inpatient facilities tend to cost more to run, patients end up paying more for care.
  • Insured or uninsured — The price of surgery can vary between insurance providers. The change in price largely depends on how much of the procedure your insurance plan covers, if any at all. If you don’t have health insurance, you can expect to pay for the full cost of the procedure out-of-pocket.
  • Location — The region, state, and even city you live in can affect the cost of your medical procedure. If you live in a rural area with fewer facilities to choose from, you can expect to pay more than you would if you lived in a city with many providers. Traveling for a medical procedure can be a great money-saving option.

Inpatient vs. outpatient facility cost differences

The cost of wrist surgery will vary greatly between inpatient and outpatient facilities. The national average cost for the surgery at inpatient facilities is $17,350, while the same procedure at outpatient facilities averaged $10,075.

Insured vs. uninsured cost differences

Insured patients have historically paid less than uninsured patients for wrist surgery, especially when they stay in-network. When a patient has insurance, they share payment responsibility with their insurance company. For patients who don’t have health insurance, the cost of their wrist surgery falls on them and, ultimately, costs more.

In-network vs. out-of-network cost differences

In-network refers to a health care provider or facility that has a contracted rate with a health insurance company. This rate is usually much lower than what someone would pay out-of-pocket; in-network providers are almost always cheaper than out-of-network providers. This does not apply to patients who are uninsured—without insurance, you shoulder the full cost of your medical procedure.   

Payment responsibility

Nearly everyone who has wrist surgery will have to pay some of the cost out-of-pocket. Uninsured patients will be responsible for the total cost of their surgery.

Patients who do have health insurance will be responsible for paying their deductible, copay, and coinsurance amounts. The amount of each of these costs depends on your health plan.

More factors that affect the cost of wrist surgery

  • Prescriptions — A physician may prescribe painkillers or antibiotics post-procedure. To avoid high prescription prices, make sure your insurance policy covers the prescriptions you receive. You can also ask if there is a generic version of the same medicine, which can help lower the cost.
  • Additional office visits — In some cases, you may be charged a separate fee for an initial consultation with the surgeon before the procedure. Complications from wrist surgery are rare. However, your doctor will want to see you for a follow-up appointment one to two weeks after your surgery to evaluate your recovery. Patients often see their doctor at least once more after that, depending on the type of surgery. Ask if these follow up visits are included in the total cost of your procedure.

Your wrist surgery checklist

1. Review the total cost of your procedure with your surgeon. Ask them to explain what each cost is for and keep a record. If you get a medical bill that’s higher than you expected, this information will come in handy.
2. Ask your surgeon if they can perform the procedure in an outpatient setting.
3. Check that all providers are in-network. Sometimes a provider who treats you will be out-of-network (this often happens with anesthesiologists). You can avoid this by asking your surgeon whether all of the providers who will treat you are in-network for your insurance.
4. Ask what the typical cost is if the surgeon finds other areas that need to be repaired during your procedure.

Finding a fair price for your wrist surgery

The target fair cost for wrist surgery is $8,875, but many factors can affect the price that you pay. If you’re worried about affording your wrist surgery, you may have more options than you think. New Choice Health works with healthcare facilities to find discounts and financing options to help you get the best price for your procedure. Learn more about New Choice Health’s Orthopedic Surgery Patient Assist program to save money on your wrist surgery today.

What is wrist surgery?

Wrist surgery is an option for people with pain or mobility issues in the wrist joint. The most common type of wrist surgery is wrist arthroscopy. This minimally-invasive procedure allows the surgeon to diagnose problems and operate on the wrist through a series of tiny incisions made around the joint. Wrist surgery can be used to treat wrist fractures, chronic wrist pain, ganglion cysts, ligament tears, and inflammation caused by arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Arthroscopic wrist surgery usually only requires regional anesthesia. This means that your arm and hand will be numb during the surgery, but you’ll be awake. You will feel no pain. Most wrist surgeries are done as outpatient procedures. Recovery takes two to four weeks. However, this can vary depending on the type of wrist surgery you have.

Are there alternatives to wrist surgery?

If your doctor tells you that you need wrist surgery, it’s usually because you’ve tried non-surgical options without success. Wrist arthroscopy is a common way to treat wrist problems, but certain conditions may be too large or complex to be treated with arthroscopic surgery. If that is the case, your doctor might recommend one of the following surgical options.

  • Open repair — Your physician may advise open repair when a direct view of the wrist joint is necessary. This can be the case in complex wrist fractures that may need bone realignment, and in certain carpal tunnel release procedures. The recovery time for open repair surgery is typically longer than that of arthroscopic surgery.
  • Wrist fusionWrist fusion is an option for patients that suffer from arthritis pain. In this surgery, the surgeon removes the surfaces of the joint affected by arthritis. Then, they join the bones of the wrist to the bones of the hand. This procedure can eliminate wrist pain but greatly decreases wrist mobility.
  • Wrist replacementWrist replacement, also called wrist arthroplasty, is an option for patients with severe pain caused by damaged bones in the wrist. During this surgery, the surgeon cuts away the damaged bones and replaces them with a metal or plastic prosthetic. Wrist arthroplasty can reduce wrist pain while keeping wrist mobility. However, the surgery is uncommon due to the complexity of the joint.

The type of procedure you get will depend on your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations. Feel free to ask your doctor why they’re recommending any procedure. If you’re unsure about their recommendations, feel free to get a second opinion.

How much should you pay for your wrist surgery?

If your doctor has recommended surgery for your wrist joint pain and mobility issues, you may have more options than you think. Doing research before your procedure can help save you money on your wrist surgery. New Choice Health has gathered cost data from healthcare facilities around the country to provide you with the most accurate wrist surgery pricing information. Visit the New Choice Health wrist surgery cost information page to find out how to make sure you’re getting a fair price for your procedure.