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.


eviCore healthcare. (2019, February). Head imaging policy. Functional MRI (f-MRI).  Retrieved July 16, 2019 from  (4 articles and/or guidelines reviewed)

Håberg, A., Kvistad, K.A., Unsgård, G., & Haraldseth, O. (2004). Preoperative blood oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging in patients with primary brain tumors: clinical application and outcome. Neurosurgery, 54 (4), 902-914. Abstract retrieved July 17, 2019 from PubMed database.

Medina, L.S., Bernal, B., Dunoyer, C., Cervantes, L., Rodriguez, M., Pacheco, E., et al. (2005). Seizure disorders: functional MR imaging for diagnostic evaluation and surgical treatment – prospective study. Radiology, 236 (1), 247-253. Abstract retrieved July 17, 2019 from

Petrella, J.R., Shah, L.M., Harris, K.M., Friedman, A.H., George, T.M., Sampson, J.H., et al. (2006). Preoperative functional MR imaging localization of language and motor areas: effect on therapeutic decision making in patients with potentially resectable brain tumors. Radiology, 240 (3), 793-802. Abstract retrieved July 17, 2019 from PubMed database.


MOST RECENT REVIEW DATE:  8/8/2019         


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