STAT+: Are expensive whole-body MRI scans medically useful? A new clinical trial aims to find out

A startup selling elective whole-body scans for upward of $1,000 is launching a 10-year, 100,000 person study to attempt to settle doubts within the medical community about its value and potential consequences.

Prenuvo, the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup touted last year by Kim Kardashian, is one of a handful of companies selling preventive MRI scans: images that aim to catch conditions like cancer, brain aneurysms, autoimmune disorders, and metabolic issues before they advance. Scans range from $999 for a torso scan to about $2,500 for a whole-body image.

Prenuvo and its competitors, which include Ezra, Neko Health, and SimonMed, cater to patients who feel their concerns weren’t taken seriously enough by the traditional health care system and who are eager for more preventive care. But steep pricing and insurers’ resistance to covering these scans put them out of reach for the majority of Americans.

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