Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a noninvasive method for the evaluation of brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow. Images are collected while specific activities are performed to assist in the pre-surgical localization of “eloquent” areas such as motor function and speech.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is considered medically necessary if the medical appropriateness criteria are met. (See Medical Appropriateness below.)
Functional MRI for all other applications is considered investigational.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is considered medically appropriate if ALL of the following criteria are met:
Used as a complementary test in preoperative evaluation for neurosurgery
Individual with refractory epilepsy or brain tumor when the lesion is in close proximity to an eloquent area of the brain (e.g., controlling verbal or motor function)
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We develop Medical Policies to provide guidance to Members and Providers. This Medical Policy relates only to the services or supplies described in it. The existence of a Medical Policy is not an authorization, certification, explanation of benefits or a contract for the service (or supply) that is referenced in the Medical Policy. For a determination of the benefits that a Member is entitled to receive under his or her health plan, the Member's health plan must be reviewed. If there is a conflict between the Medical Policy and a health plan, the express terms of the health plan will govern.
The evidence suggests that although bilateral activation patterns in fMRI cannot be conclusively interpreted, fMRI in patients who are to undergo neurosurgery for seizures or brain tumors may help to define eloquent areas, reduce surgical time, and alter treatment decisions.
Albers, G., Thijs, V., Wechsler, L., et al. (2006) Magnetic resonance imaging profiles predict clinical response to early reperfusion: the diffusion and perfusion imaging evaluation for understanding stroke evolution (DEFUSE) study. Annals of Neurology, (60) 508-517.
American College of Radiology. (2017). ACR-ASNR-SPR practice parameters for the performance of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain. Retrieved October 23, 2017 from www.acr.org.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS.gov. (2011, July) National Coverage Determination (NCD) for magnetic resonance imaging (220.2). Retrieved March 8, 2016 fromhttps://www.cms.gov.
Latchaw R., Kucharczyk, J., Moseley, M. et al. (2005) Imaging of the Nervous System. Philadelphia, Elsevier Press, pp.1089-1100, 101-120 and 1225-1239.
ORIGINAL EFFECTIVE DATE: 4/13/2012
MOST RECENT REVIEW DATE: 12/14/2017
Policies included in the Medical Policy Manual are not intended to certify coverage availability. They are medical determinations about a particular technology, service, drug, etc. While a policy or technology may be medically necessary, it could be excluded in a member's benefit plan. Please check with the appropriate claims department to determine if the service in question is a covered service under a particular benefit plan. Use of the Medical Policy Manual is not intended to replace independent medical judgment for treatment of individuals. The content on this Web site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice in any way. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider if you have questions regarding a medical condition or treatment.
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