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Pre-MRI oral contrast is part of the MRI exam


Is it appropriate to bill for oral contrast that is administered prior to an MRI or is the oral contrast considered included in the MRI scan code and therefore not separately billable?


Oral contrast is considered inherent in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure and not separately billable or payable. The same applies for any kind of contrast other than IV contrast, that is low osmolar intrathecal contrast for spine exams, or intra-articular contrast for joint exams. 

There is a HCPCS code for oral MRI contrast that may be reported, but it is not separately paid. The code and full description are as follows 

Q9954 Oral magnetic resonance contrast agent, per 100 ml

Although oral contrast is not separately reimbursable, a hospital should list it under a revenue code such as 0255 – Drugs incident to radiology.