BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging


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.





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.


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

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2011, July) National Coverage Determination (NCD) for magnetic resonance imaging (220.2). Retrieved March 8, 2016 from

eviCore healthcare® (2018, May) Head imaging guidelines 20.0.2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018 from (20 articles and/or guidelines reviewed)

Korvenoja, A., Kirveskari, E., Aronen, H., Avikainen, S., Brander, A., Huttunen, J., et. al. (2006) Sensorimotor cortex localization: comparison of magnetoencephalography, functional MR imaging, and intraoperative cortical mapping. Radiology, 241 (1), 213-22. Abstract retrieved July 11, 2018 from PubMed database.




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