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| 1 minute read

The major media coverage of the whole-body MRI screening buzz continues

The debate -- and the buzz -- continues over the use of whole body MRIs performed on asymptomatic individuals, usually who have the means to pay the several thousand dollars of out-of-pocket costs that are not covered by payors. The hope for healthy individuals who undergo these studies is to detect abnormalities as early as possible, or to rule out potentially life-threatening conditions. As reported here earlier, there is widespread skepticism about the value of these studies.

In the past month, articles in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal recently documented the growing popularity of MRI whole body screening preventive testing. Now The New York Times has entered the mix with coverage from their reporters on this hot topic as well.

These screening studies have a growing list of celebrity proponents who stand across an opposite number of mainstream medical organizations that have stated reservations of MRI whole body screening, such as the written statement of the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Those promoting whole body MRI surely welcome the coverage, even when the press pair their reporting with criticism of these scans when performed on patients without any medical symptoms, such as the balanced coverage offered by the Times this week. After all, as P.T. Barnum once said, “There's no such thing as bad publicity.” 

Preventive screenings will likely find early cancers, but not every instance of cancer develops into devastating disease, Dr. Smith-Bindman said. And once any abnormality is detected, doctors will pursue it. This can result in 'major surgery and radiation and chemotherapy,' she said, for an early cancer that might never have developed into a true health risk.


diagnostic radiology, mri whole body scans, health care & life sciences