Spine MRI

A spine MRI can be used to display vertebral anatomy, disc spaces, ligaments, and the spinal cord. Spine MRI can also detect congenital abnormalities or injuries to the spine, explore causes of back pain, and assess tumors. It is also used to plan surgical procedures and monitor post-surgery progress.


Alberta Health Services does not cover private MRI services, such as spine MRI exams, when performed outside of the hospital. The cost of an MRI of the spine ranges from $600 to $750 per section, depending on the need for contrast.

The need for contrast is determined by the radiologist at the time of imaging if it is determined that it is required for a proper diagnosis. The need for contrast is also impacted by specific patient history.

Sometimes we need to scan multiple sections of the spine for a diagnosis. In this case, the cost of the exam is determined by the number of sections, plus the cost of contrast, if needed. Note that contrast is only charged once, no matter how many sections of the spine are imaged.

Discounts may apply for additional scanned areas done on the same day as the first scanned area.


A spine MRI typically lasts between 10-15 minutes per section.

Being prepared for your spine MRI helps us take the best possible images for diagnosis. Please visit our exam prep page for more instructions specific to spine MRI preparation.

MRI exam
spine mri