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What Factors Affect Discogram Costs?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Discogram costs include fees for the performance of the test itself as well as the interpretation of the results. When a care provider recommends this imaging study, typically to research the causes of back pain, the patient can request an estimate and may ask for details on specific expenses. It is important to make sure the predicted cost includes both the technical and professional fees for the test. These fees are often billed separately because the technical fee goes to the clinic where the test is performed and the professional fee is directed to the care provider who reads the results.

In this medical imaging study, patients receive sedation and a local anesthetic to allow a technician to inject dye into specific discs of the spine, including a reference disk. Imaging equipment follows the movement of the dye and can highlight leaks suggesting that a disc has ruptured or is in danger of rupture. A care provider may recommend a discogram if other imaging studies fail to show disc damage but the patient still experiences pain consistent with disc problems.

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The technical side of the discogram costs includes fees for the medications used, facilities, equipment, and the personnel who administer the test. These costs can increase if patients need scans of multiple discs or complications arise during the imaging study. If the patient experiences an allergic reaction, for example, emergency care may be necessary and this can be expensive. Patients who need support during the test, like oxygen to help them breathe, may have higher discogram costs as well because of their increased technical needs.

Interpretation of a discogram is usually quoted at a flat rate for the consultant’s evaluation of the results. It may be possible to get competing quotes to get an idea of the range of available prices. More reputable experts can be more expensive, as can people in more remote areas, because they have fewer patients and may need to charge more. Patients should be aware that it can take several days to get results, and the technicians who perform the test may not be able to provide information.

Patients concerned about discogram costs have several options. If they carry insurance, they could request a preauthorization for the test to confirm that it will be covered and get information about the size of the copayment that may be required. Some facilities may offer a discount to people who pay in full at the time of a procedure, for patients who do not carry insurance, or may offer payment plans to help with discogram costs. It’s also possible that a patient may be eligible for financial assistance through a government program, hospital-administered patient support fund, or community charity.

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