Every few days, I'd occasionally perform some of the shoulder mobility and strength tests I know like the Hawkins test, Neer test, Yergason test, Drop Arm test, Crossover test, Yocum test, Empty Can test and a few others.
I always tested positive on the Empty Can test and it was painful at that. I followed this up with the rehab doctor because the physical therapy exercises were no longer helping. He directed me to proceed with getting an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) examination done on the left shoulder. I've been delaying this procedure for its cost and the hope that physical therapy was enough.
Cost of Plain Shoulder MRI
So I met with the rehab doctor to get a request slip for a Left Shoulder MRI (Plain). The procedure is plain in that there is no need to inject a dye when getting the MRI. Knowing my concerns on the cost of MRI, the rehab doctor gave some names of hospitals where I might get the shoulder MRI for a cheaper price.
Some of the hospitals he mentioned were Calamba Medical Center, Delos Santos Medical Center, Makati Medical Center and UP-PGH. He estimated that UP-PGH was the most affordable at Php 5,000, but this was many years ago.
He quickly cautioned that there were diagnostic clinics and "medical centers" in front of known hospitals that had very inexpensive MRI. He was wary of them though and advised to stay away from them.
Cheapest Cost for Shoulder MRI
A quick call to UP-PGH informed us that their MRI machine has been non-operational for a few years and instead referred us to a center within UP-PGH compound called FMAB (Faculty Medical Arts Building) that outsources the MRI procedure. Their cost for a shoulder MRI is Php 6,142.50. There is an additional cost of Php 800 for the MRI plates or film.
The Calamba Medical Center quoted Php 9,315 for the procedure while the one at Delos Santos' Hospital charges cheaper at Php 9,200. MRI at Makati Medical Center cost a little above Php 7,000.
Although the FMAB facility was far from our place, they apparently had the more affordable MRI fees.
First Time MRI Experience at UPMC
We would learn later on that the FMAB facility is run by a private institution called UPMC or University Physicians Medical Center. The place has been extensively renovated and is very impressive with state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities. The MRI machine is at the ground floor and UPMC boasts a 1.5 Tesla MRI scanning machine Magnetom Essenza by Siemens.
Below is the photo of the MRI machine from the UPMC website.
My call slip for the MRI scan was supposedly at 2:30 pm but we were entertained at 3:30 pm already. I could only assume they had more patients that day. We didn't mind waiting though. The place is clean and well-lighted though a little cold. They had newspapers and a movie to keep you occupied.
Finally, after a brief interview, I was led by the MRI technologist to the MRI room. I was asked to remove all metal pieces I had with me - eyeglasses, wallet, etc. I was asked to lie on a bed that slides inside the tunnel of the MRI machine. I had a panic switch button which I held in my right hand to alert the MRI technologist in case of emergency.
My ears were fitted with a pair of headphones with music playing in them. This was supposedly to drown the MRI noises and distract you from the MRI procedure. There was also a white cuff that covered the entire left shoulder area as shown below.
I must admit that the MRI scan procedure was a bit more terrifying than I thought. It can become very claustrophobic once inside the machine because the tunnel's celing was just a few inches from your face.
And I was unlucky in that the music in my headphones stopped playing halfway the entire procedure. So I had to endure much of the MRI noises which had clanging and banging sounds. I could just describe them with the sounds you'd hear in a construction site.
MRI Films and Readings
After two days we returned to FMAB to claim the MRI results - films and readings. The MRI scans had the following interpretation by the MRI Radiologist:
- Partial tear, supraspinatus tendon
- Minimal joint effusion
- Bone hemangioma, epiphyseal region of the humerus
There were, in all, 80 images in the 4 MRI films, but the one that ultimately had the orthopedic surgeon's attention was this image of my left shoulder as seen from the front.
Without even looking at the interpretation of the MRI radiologist, the Orthopedic surgeon also interpreted the MRI results as showing a partially-torn rotator cuff primarily based on the above MRI image.