How do you know if you have a hernia?

You can’t always tell the exact moment you get a hernia. Many start out small, and they may not cause noticeable hernia symptoms. You may see or feel a slight bulge in your abdomen, groin, or upper thigh. But you may not. By the time you start wondering if you have a hernia, you may feel some light pulling or occasional twinges of pain near the hernia. For some, the bulge shows up before any feelings of pain or pressure in the area. For others, the hernia pain comes first.

It can be tempting to push through the discomfort from your hernia if you’re only experiencing mild symptoms. As the hernia grows, however, your pain may get worse. 

A hernia grows when more tissue starts pushing through your muscle wall. As your hernia gets bigger, you may start to feel pain every time you exercise, lift, bend over, go up or down stairs, stand for prolonged periods, strain during a bowel movement, cough, or even laugh. If the pain is bad enough, you may start trying to avoid activities that strain the muscles around your hernia. (This is around the point that many people realize just how often they use their abdominal muscles throughout the day.)

Hernia symptoms can be different for men and women.

Hernias are more common in men, but they can affect both sexes. However, hernia symptoms differ between men and women. Because of this, many hernias in women go undiagnosed. (Women account for only 8% of hernia diagnoses.) If your provider can’t see your hernia during a physical exam, they may recommend an abdominal ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan to get a better view of the muscles, fatty tissue, and organs in the affected area.

Hernia symptoms in men

For men, the most common hernia symptoms include a bulge that you can see or feel, pressure or tugging sensation, aches, and pain. Feelings of discomfort may get worse when you strain the muscles near that area, such as during heavy lifting or pushing. For a groin hernia, you may also notice pain or swelling around the testicles.

Hernia symptoms in women

Women are more likely to have an internal hernia that can’t be seen or felt through the skin. These internal hernias can pinch nerves, trap abdominal tissue, and cause severe pain. Women can have visible hernia bulges sometimes, too, though it’s more common in abdominal hernias than in groin hernias. 

Other hernia symptoms for women include aching, sharp pain, or burning in the area. The discomfort or pain will typically get worse or more noticeable during activities that strain the nearby muscles, such as heavy lifting, walking up and down stairs, coughing, and sex.

Hernia risk factors

Anyone can develop a hernia, but some people may be more at risk. For example, having abdominal surgery increases your chances of developing a hernia near your scar, called an incisional hernia. And women are more likely to develop umbilical hernias near the belly button, especially if they’re overweight or have been pregnant. Men, on the other hand, have a higher risk for groin hernias due to their anatomy.

Other health issues can be mistaken for a hernia.

Diagnosing a hernia can sometimes be tricky, especially if there’s no visible bulge. And, since hernias are more common in men, they’re often overlooked as a potential cause of pain in women. Hernias share some common symptoms with a few other health conditions, so be sure to tell your provider if you think you may have a hernia. 

Sometimes, hernias can be mistaken for:

  • Groin strains
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Scar tissue adhesions
  • Lipomas (non-cancerous fatty tumors)
  • Hematomas (bad bruises)
  • Appendicitis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids

Your provider should be able to work with you to figure out whether a hernia is the source of your pain or discomfort. If you’re unsure of your diagnosis or have additional questions, you always have the right to ask for a second opinion before moving forward with any treatment plan.

What should you do if you think you have a hernia?

You can check for a hernia by feeling for a bump under your skin in the affected area. However, some hernias don’t create obvious bulges, so it’s always best to get a potential hernia checked out. If you think you have a hernia, your first stop should be your primary care provider. Tell them about your symptoms, and they’ll refer you to a surgeon if they think you need hernia repair surgery

Hernias won’t go away without treatment, and they can grow over time, leading to more pain and potential complications. After examining your hernia, your provider can help you decide between getting hernia surgery or waiting and monitoring the hernia for changes. 

Since hernias can get worse if left untreated, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit to get yours checked out as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following symptoms. They could be signs of a strangulated hernia—a potentially life-threatening hernia complication.

  • A bulge that’s dark, red, or purple
  • Sudden sharp pain
  • Worsening pain
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Trouble passing gas or moving your bowels
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fever

Breakdown: Signs you may have a hernia

Abdominal (ventral) and groin (inguinal) hernia symptoms:

    • Bulge on the abdomen or groin (not always visible)
    • Mild pain, pressure, or aching around the hernia
    • Worsened pain or discomfort when you strain your abdomen or groin, such as during:
    • Heavy lifting
    • Bending over
    • Running
    • Going up or down stairs
    • Coughing or laughing
    • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Additional hernia symptoms for men:
    • Pressure or tugging sensation near the groin or scrotum
  • Additional hernia symptoms for women:
    • Burning sensation near the hernia

What happens next?

If you found yourself nodding along as you read this post, you may now be wondering if there’s a chance your hernia will go away on its own. Unfortunately, that answer’s typically no, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need surgery right away. In our next hernia blog post, we break down when you need surgery to repair your hernia and what happens if a hernia’s left untreated. Check it out here: Can a hernia go away on its own?

Is surgical mesh safe for hernia repair?

Hernia surgery is the only way to repair a hernia and keep it from coming back. Hernias won’t go away on their own, and they can cause pain and other complications when left untreated. Hernia repair is a common surgery — over a million are performed each year in the U.S., many of which involve the use of surgical mesh because of its solid track record for preventing hernia recurrence.

So why does surgical mesh sometimes get a bad rap? Well, a lot of the stigma can be traced to a series of television and radio ad campaigns funded by medical injury law firms looking for clients. The ads list every potential complication linked to surgical mesh, and they’re hard to forget.

However, most complications listed in the ads were caused by products that have been recalled and are no longer on the market. While all surgeries come with a slight risk of complications, surgical mesh doesn’t increase that risk. In fact, hernia repairs with surgical mesh may have shorter recovery times and reduced hernia recurrence rates.

Why do surgeons use surgical mesh for hernia repair?

When you have a hernia, an organ or internal tissue protrudes through a weak spot in your muscles, most commonly in the abdomen or groin. To fix this, a surgeon goes in to push the bulging organs or tissue back into place. Then, they repair the weak area in the muscle. Often, the surgeon will use hernia surgical mesh (along with stitches) to strengthen the muscle wall and lower the risk of the hernia returning.

Not all hernia repairs need mesh. Your healthcare provider can help you decide whether surgical mesh is the best option for repairing your hernia.

What is surgical mesh made of?

Surgical mesh is a medical device made up of synthetic materials (such as polyester or polypropylene) or biological materials (animal tissue, such as skin or intestine). There are a few categories of hernia mesh, all of which are safe for hernia repair: 

  • Synthetic and non-absorbable
  • Synthetic and partially-absorbable
  • Synthetic and absorbable
  • Biological and absorbable

Your surgeon will choose a type of mesh based on your hernia’s location and size, as well as your overall health.

How painful is hernia surgery with mesh?

You won’t feel any pain during your hernia repair surgery, as you’ll be asleep under general anesthesia the whole time. After surgery, you may feel pain around your incision, but your hernia mesh won’t make you feel any more pain or other sensations than you would without it. You may even have a shorter recovery after your hernia repair, thanks to the mesh supporting your muscles as they heal.

How does your body heal around the mesh?

The process is the same whether your hernia surgical mesh is in your upper stomach, abdomen, or groin. Your surgeon will place the mesh across the weak spot in your muscle wall and attach it with stitches. As your muscles start to heal, muscle tissue grows into the pores in the surgical mesh. So, your muscles hold the mesh in place, and the mesh strengthens and stabilizes that part of your muscle wall.

Can you feel hernia mesh inside you?

No, you won’t be able to feel the mesh through your skin after your hernia repair. Surgical mesh is very thin and pliable, like cloth. Plus, hernia repair mesh is usually hidden underneath a layer of muscle. So, if you feel around your scar after your incision heals, you’ll only feel your muscle, not the mesh.

How long does hernia repair mesh last?

Some surgical mesh is non-absorbable, so it will stay in your body permanently to reinforce the repaired muscle area. Other mesh is completely or partially-absorbable. So, all or some of the mesh will dissolve in your body over time. As the mesh dissolves, your new muscle tissue growth takes over the job of supporting your muscle wall.

Does surgical mesh appear on or interfere with imaging tests or metal detectors?

Surgical mesh is made up of synthetic or biological materials, not metal. So, it won’t show up on a metal detector. Depending on the type of mesh you have, it may appear on X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or other imaging tests. It won’t interfere with the images, though. Your healthcare provider may even use diagnostic imaging tests to monitor your recovery after hernia replacement surgery with mesh.

If I need surgery in the future, do I need to tell my healthcare provider about the surgical mesh? 

Yes, especially if you need an operation in the area where you have surgical mesh. It’s generally safe to have another surgery in the same area as your surgical mesh — just make sure your provider knows where the mesh is before they operate.

What are the side effects of using mesh in hernia repair?

The potential complications of hernia repair are largely the same whether or not your surgeon used mesh. These can include pain, bleeding, scar tissue adhesion, infection, and hernia recurrence. With hernia repairs with mesh, there’s also a small chance of the mesh migrating or shrinking. Most mesh-related complications can be diagnosed with imaging tests.

How much does hernia surgery with mesh cost?

The average cost of hernia repair surgery — with or without mesh — in the U.S. is $7,750, but prices can range as high as $12,500 or more. Figuring out an exact number is difficult, though. The total amount depends on so many things: your location, whether you have insurance, whether you get the surgery at an inpatient or outpatient facility, and the list goes on. That’s why healthcare facilities are so reluctant to give cost estimates before a procedure.

We can tell you what you should pay, though, and we break it down in our hernia repair cost blog post. If you want to get straight to specifics, we can help out there too, thanks to our relationships with medical providers across the country. Visit our homepage to compare hernia repair surgery costs at healthcare facilities in your city.

Can a hernia go away on its own?

So, you think you may have a hernia. You’re probably dealing with some pain and discomfort in your abdomen or groin, and you might have noticed a bulge or lump in the area too. It may also hurt to cough, bend over, or lift heavy things. You know that you need to do something about it, but you’re not sure if hernia repair surgery is the answer.

Well, without making you read too far, hernias don’t usually go away without surgery. However, some people might not need hernia repair surgery right away, if ever. Read on for our breakdown of:

  • Why hernias won’t go away without surgery;
  • What happens if you don’t treat a hernia;
  • Which at-home remedies can help with hernia pain.

So, can a hernia go away without surgery?

If your first instinct is to look for alternatives to hernia repair surgery, you’re not alone. Many people hop on Google with hopes of finding an at-home remedy for their hernia. While home treatments may ease some of the pain caused by a hernia, surgery is the only way to actually fix it. 

A hernia is when an organ or tissue protrudes from a gap in the muscle wall of your abdomen or groin. Even if you can push the tissue back into place, the gap won’t close unless a surgeon goes in and joins it together with stitches or mesh.

Some healthcare providers may recommend using a binder or corset to keep the hernia in place. This temporary solution may help relieve some of the pain from the hernia, but it won’t help it heal. (Also, you should only use these methods as recommended by your provider. If done wrong, they could lead to potentially dangerous complications.)

What happens if a hernia is left untreated?

It’s sometimes safe to put off hernia surgery, as long as you and your doctor monitor your hernia for any changes in appearance or symptoms. But just like surgery, leaving a hernia untreated comes with some risks. If left alone, a hernia may get bigger as more tissue makes its way through the weakened muscle wall. This can make the hernia more painful and make it harder to do everyday activities, affecting your quality of life.

In rare cases, an untreated hernia could lead to strangulation—when fatty tissue or a loop of the intestine gets caught inside the hernia, cutting off blood supply. Strangulation isn’t common, but it can be life-threatening.

When you get a hernia, fatty tissue is the first thing to protrude through the muscle wall. This actually isn’t that bad because it can plug the hole temporarily. However, when organ tissue (like the small intestine) starts pushing through the muscle wall too—called incarceration—that’s a more serious issue. 

With an incarcerated hernia, you’ll notice that gentle pressure can’t push your hernia back into place anymore. You’ll also start experiencing constant pain or discomfort. In more severe cases, an incarcerated hernia can cause nausea, fever, inflammation, or darkening of the skin over the hernia. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you notice any changes in your hernia.

Can you treat a hernia at home without surgery?

It’s up to you and your medical team to decide when it’s the right time for hernia repair surgery. If your hernia is small and it’s not causing you any pain, you may be able to put off the procedure. To keep your hernia from getting worse (and possibly relieve some of the discomfort it causes), your provider may recommend:

Using an ice pack or cold compress. Ice packs may help reduce swelling around your hernia and relieve pain by numbing the area. Your provider can give you guidelines on how long and how often to ice your hernia.

Avoiding heavy lifting and intense physical activity. Any strain on your muscle wall could affect your hernia and potentially make it worse. Exercise is important, so don’t stop working out. Instead, stick to low-impact activities, such as walking, gentle yoga, or swimming. Try to stay away from any movement that causes discomfort or pain near your hernia.

Making nutritional changes to your diet. Depending on which type of hernia you have, your provider may recommend eating smaller meals or avoiding foods that cause indigestion, heartburn, or constipation.

Reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. Sometimes, carrying extra weight can put more strain on your hernia, leading to more severe symptoms. If your doctor thinks it’s healthy for you to try to lose weight, they can advise you on how to do so without further injuring your hernia.

Remember, these techniques are all about easing hernia symptoms. They’re not intended to be a substitute for hernia repair surgery, and they cannot actually heal your hernia.

Is hernia surgery expensive?

Cost is one of the top reasons people choose not to get hernia surgery. At New Choice Health, we’re always hearing from people who’ve had to put off hernia repair due to the high costs associated with the procedure. (The national average price of hernia repair surgery is between $7,750 and $9,000). 

Since we’ve negotiated all-inclusive bundled rates with some of the top surgeons and healthcare facilities in the country, we can usually connect those patients with hernia repair options they can actually afford. Through our Patient Assist program, hernia surgery typically costs between $3,000 – $7,500, thousands below the price most patients are initially quoted. 

What’s it like to book a hernia repair surgery through New Choice Health?

In 2018, Heather S. reached out to us after putting off hernia repair surgery for almost a year. Her symptoms were getting worse, but she couldn’t afford the $6,500 copay she’d have by going through her insurance. Then, to make things worse, she lost her job and her health insurance. Heather felt like she had even less options than before, but she knew she needed to do something.

So, she started researching hernia surgery and surgery centers. When she stumbled across a blog post written by someone who’d found affordable hernia surgery through Patient Assist, she decided to check us out.

“At first, it looked too good to be true,” Heather remembers. “But I put in my information and requested a quote anyway. Within minutes, a representative called me and explained how the Patient Assist program worked. My surgery was scheduled within a week of that first call.

“Before I paid, my Care Concierge sent me links to research the surgery center and surgeon that I was referred to. I did as much digging around as I possibly could and found nothing negative. I even searched with the Better Business Bureau. So, I took the leap of faith and sent the money. This leap of faith saved me about $6,000!”

More Patient Assist testimonials

Our testimonials page is filled with stories like Heather’s, all from people who thought it would be impossible to find an affordable price for hernia repair surgery before they talked to one of our Care Concierges about the Patient Assist program.

Here are some more examples of what our patients have to say:

 

“Patient Assist held my hand throughout the process for my hernia repair. I saved $4,000, I knew what the total charges would be before the operation, and I only had one all-inclusive bill to pay. “

– Mark R. (2021)

 

“I had an inguinal hernia but no insurance. As a self-pay patient with low income, I was in a bind. After searching the web for options, I came across New Choice Health’s Patient Assist. I chose an outpatient surgery center that was over 225 miles away, but the significant savings (about 50%) more than made up for the long drive. The doctors and staff were highly experienced, professional and friendly. And, of course, it was affordably priced—something I was unable to find on my own.”
– Albert V. (2020)

 

“This service exceeded my expectations in all phases of service and support. And, I saved over $4,000.00 on my hernia surgery with Patient Assist!”

– David P. (2019)

 

“I used the Patient Assist program for my hernia procedure, and I have no regrets! Their team did a great job advocating for me through the whole procedure, and they saved me thousands of dollars. When comparing the cost to other providers, my total savings came to more than $19,000. I know it seems too good to be true but that is what they did!I can truly say they were outstanding before, during, and after the procedure.”

– James M. (2019)

Next steps

No matter how much we may wish otherwise, some medical conditions just won’t go away without surgery. A hernia is one of them. Hernia repair surgery can give relief to pain and inflammation caused by hernias, as well as help prevent strangulation and other complications in the future. To get an accurate idea of what your hernia surgery will cost before you schedule the procedure, fill out this quick form to request more information.

How painful is hernia surgery?

When you’re diagnosed with a hernia, you have two options: get surgery to repair the hernia or wait and watch for signs that it’s getting worse. Invasive surgery isn’t a choice most people take lightly. At New Choice Health, we want to help patients make an informed decision about whether hernia repair surgery is right for them. So, in that spirit, we’ll use this blog to answer one of the top questions we see about this procedure (other than how much it will cost):

How painful is hernia surgery and recovery?

Like with any invasive surgery, you’ll need time for rest and recovery after a hernia repair. In the first day or two after your surgery, you may feel mild to moderate pain at your incision site(s). You may also feel extra tired as your body starts the recovery process. This phase is usually short, and most people feel much better within a few days to a week after their hernia repair.  

If you were dealing with pain and pressure from your hernia before surgery, you might notice some almost-immediate relief from that discomfort (even if your incisions are a little sore).

Hernias don’t typically go away on their own. Without treatment, they can cause pain, pressure, and bulging in the affected area—often the groin or abdomen. You’ll probably notice this discomfort most when lifting weights, coughing, or bending over. Over time, hernias can get bigger and lead to rare but life-threatening complications. 

After your hernia surgery diagnosis, your healthcare provider can talk you through your options.  They may help you choose between surgery and watchful waiting, but the decision is ultimately up to you.

Is hernia surgery major surgery?

Hernia surgery is usually considered major surgery. It involves cutting into the body and altering the anatomy to push back the protruding tissue and repair the hole in the muscle wall. As with any invasive surgery, hernia repair—with or without mesh—comes with a slight risk of complications. The most common include pain, infection, scar tissue adhesion, bowel blockage, and hernia recurrence. 

There are two types of hernia surgery: open and laparoscopic. Open hernia surgery is a bigger operation than laparoscopic. It involves a single large incision and is often associated with longer recovery times. Laparoscopic hernia surgery involves a few small incisions, which may heal faster and cause less pain and numbness than a single large incision.

No matter which type of surgery you get, you’ll be under general anesthesia and asleep the whole time. So, you won’t feel any pain at all during your procedure.

How long will I have pain after hernia surgery?

Pain is subjective, and everybody’s hernia repair recovery experience is different. However, the worst pain should go away within a few days. Despite some pain, most patients are able to walk on their own the same day as the surgery. Many also feel well enough to go back to work (depending on the nature of the job) as soon as three days after the procedure.

As you recover, you’ll feel some soreness and discomfort while your incisions heal. You may also notice some bruising or pulling around the incision site. Your medical team will prescribe pain medications to help minimize your postoperative pain. Their recommendations may include some combination of Tylenol, Advil, and narcotic pain medications.

  • If you have open hernia repair surgery, the pain will be mainly in the area around your incision, and you’ll notice it lessening gradually in the few weeks that follow your procedure. By weeks 4 to 6, you should feel mostly back to normal.
  • If you have laparoscopic hernia repair surgery, you may feel a cramp-like pain spread out over your entire abdomen in the day or two after your procedure. This pain should go away quickly, though. Then, it can take around 1 to 2 weeks for your incisions to heal fully.

Patient experiences with pain after hernia surgery

At New Choice Health, we’ve spoken to many patients who were surprised to find their pain after hernia repair surgery was significantly less than they expected: 

David S. had put up with his hernia for over 20 years before getting it repaired. “I remember nothing of the surgery itself since I was under general anesthesia, but I woke up soon after, feeling great,” he recalls. As his wife drove them the seven-hour trip home, he remembers feeling relatively pain-free, partly thanks to the pain medication prescribed by his medical team. The couple even stopped on the way home to visit one of their daughters! 

He continues, “Before I knew it, I was home and sleeping in my own bed, all repaired up. The first few days afterward were the hardest, and I laid around the house a lot. But then I went back to my little sawmill and resumed work (leaving the heavy lifting to my employees). Now, six weeks have passed. I feel great and am lifting again—carefully, of course.”

Here’s another story from Jason T., who had hernia repair surgery in 2019:

Back in December 2018, I was looking for an option to repair my inguinal hernia. I didn’t have health insurance and was on a budget, so my choices were limited. I’d had the hernia for over six months, and it was affecting my daily life as well as my job. I needed to have it taken care of.

Now, it’s been almost two months since my surgery, and I haven’t felt this good in years. I’m back to walking 6 miles a day and I have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. I never realized my hernia was causing me that many problems! After having it repaired, I feel so much more energetic, and I can do a lot more than I could before. It’s like a whole new me.

A few more words from our Patient Assist hernia repair surgery patients

“I am feeling very good, no complications at all, thanks to a good team of doctors and nurses. I am attaching a picture of me and my wife, a day after the surgery, walking and collecting flowers around the hotel.”– Misael G.

 

“My surgery went very well, and I returned to work five days later. I give all the credit to the surgeon, who helped me with a fast recovery!”– Carlene D.

 

“[My husband] Jim did so well that he actually went to Target (to pick up a few things) the evening of his surgery. LOL.”– Kim C., wife of the patient

Is hernia surgery worth the pain?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether the recovery from hernia repair surgery is worth the relief from the pain, discomfort, and other symptoms your hernia is causing you. If you decide to wait, you’ll need to have your hernia checked regularly to monitor for any signs that it’s getting worse. (Since it won’t go away on its own.) Most people have quick, uneventful recoveries after hernia repair, a small number may experience complications or longer recovery times. 

If you’re ready to start exploring your hernia repair options, head over to our post on hernia repair cost averages across the U.S. There, you’ll find how much hernia repair can cost with and without insurance, depending on where you have the procedure. You can also visit our homepage to find price estimates in your city and request a personalized quote.

What should an x-ray cost?

How much should an x-ray cost?

In the United States, the cost of an x-ray depends on many things. These include (but aren’t limited to) your location, whether you have health insurance, and which part of your body is being examined. And, to make things even more complicated, your x-ray cost isn’t always the same as the price you end up paying.

Here, we’ll break down what affects the cost of your x-ray and — more importantly — what steps you can take to make sure you’re getting a fair price.

What is an x-ray?

An x-ray is a diagnostic imaging test that creates images of your bones and soft tissues. It can be used to diagnose and evaluate a wide range of conditions, such as bone fractures and infections, lung and heart conditions, and certain types of cancer.

X-rays are noninvasive and can be performed at hospitals and outpatient centers, as well as some doctors’ and dentists’ offices. During this procedure, an x-ray technologist uses a machine to take two-dimensional pictures of the inside of your body. It’s a quick process, and most x-rays are done within fifteen minutes.

After your appointment, a radiologist will examine the images and send the results to your physician.

What’s a fair price for an x-ray in the United States?

The average cost for an x-ray in the United States is $125, but prices can range from $50 to over $500. One of the biggest factors that affect the cost of your x-ray is whether you have it performed in an inpatient facility (like a hospital) or an outpatient facility (like a doctor’s office or urgent care center).

Based on our data, the target fair price for an x-ray is $65, whether you have health insurance or not.

  • National Average: $125
  • National Range: $45 – $775+
  • Outpatient Facility Average: $75
  • Inpatient Facility Average: $450
  • Target Fair Price: $65

X-Ray Cost Averages Around the United States

Location Price Range
Chicago, IL X-Ray Cost Average $130 – $330
Dallas, TX X-Ray Cost Average $120 – $300
New York, NY X-Ray Cost Average $100 – $260
Los Angeles, CA X-Ray Cost Average $230 – $600
Miami, FL X-Ray Cost Average $100 – $250
Houston, TX X-Ray Cost Average $130 – $320
Philadelphia, PA X-Ray Cost Average $130 – $340
Phoenix, AZ X-Ray Cost Average $170 – $420
Atlanta, GA X-Ray Cost Average $160 – $400
Washington, DC X-Ray Cost Average $170 – $420

What can affect how much an x-ray costs?

A few things can affect the cost of healthcare, no matter which type of procedure you’re getting. The main factors that decide the price of your procedure are:

  • Facility setting — Different facilities can charge different amounts for the same procedure. Having your x-ray done in a hospital can cost far more than having it done in a doctor’s office or urgent care center. (Inpatient facilities, like hospitals, tend to cost more to run, so patients end up paying more for care.)
  • Health insurance — The cost of an x-ray can vary between insurance providers. The price you pay largely depends on how much of the procedure your insurance plan covers, if any at all. If you don’t have health insurance, you can expect to pay the full cost out-of-pocket. 
  • Location — The region, state, and even city you live in can affect the cost of your medical procedure. For example, if you live in a rural area with fewer facilities to choose from, you’ll probably end up paying more than you would if you lived in a city with many different providers. 

Inpatient vs. outpatient facility cost differences

Inpatient and outpatient facilities will offer significantly different prices for x-rays. The national average cost for an x-ray at inpatient facilities is $450. The same procedure at outpatient facilities averages $75. 

Insured vs. uninsured cost differences

Usually, insured patients will pay less for x-rays than uninsured patients, especially when they stay in-network and have the procedure in an outpatient facility.

In-network vs. out-of-network cost differences

If you have health insurance, you’ll need to make sure you have your x-ray done at a facility that’s in your insurance network. In-network providers will almost always be cheaper than out-of-network providers. 

Payment responsibility

Nearly everyone who has an x-ray will have to pay some of the cost out-of-pocket. If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll have to pay for the total cost of the procedure. If you have health insurance, you’ll still need to pay your deductible, copay, and coinsurance amounts. Your insurance benefits coordinator can help you understand how much your insurance covers and how much of the cost you’re responsible for — just call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask.

More factors that affect the cost of an x-ray

  • Contrast materials — Your physician might request an x-ray with contrast materials, such as barium or iodine. These special dyes can help create a more detailed image of your soft tissues, like blood vessels and organs. If your doctor says you need an x-ray with contrast, ask if the contrast material is included in the total cost of your procedure. 
  • Additional office visits — You may have a follow-up appointment soon after the x-ray to discuss your results. Ask if this follow-up visit is included in the total cost of your procedure.

Are there alternatives to an x-ray?

An x-ray is a common procedure that allows your healthcare provider to see images of your bones, organs, and other internal structures. If your doctor recommends an x-ray, it’s probably because it’s the best imaging test for your situation. (X-rays are usually faster and more accessible than other forms of imaging.) There are some alternatives to an x-ray, though you’ll want to check with your doctor to see if they are a good option for you.

  • Magnetic Resonance ImagingMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a procedure that uses radio waves and large magnets to take detailed images of the body’s internal structures. Unlike x-rays, MRIs don’t use ionizing radiation. An MRI may provide more detailed images than an x-ray, but the scan typically takes much longer to perform.
  • Ultrasound — An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to produce images of the organs, blood vessels, and other soft tissues inside the body. This procedure doesn’t produce the ionizing radiation present in x-rays. However, it only shows images of body parts that don’t contain gas and aren’t hidden by bone.
  • CT Scan — A computed tomography (CT) scan is a diagnostic imaging test used to examine the bones, organs, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside the body. During a CT scan, x-rays are taken from many different angles. Then, a computer combines the images to create a cross-sectional picture. 

The imaging test you get will depend on your personal health and your doctor’s recommendations. You can always ask your doctor why they’re recommending a specific procedure, and you always have the right to a second opinion.

Your x-ray checklist

  1. Review the total cost of your x-ray with your physician, and keep a record of what they say. If you get a higher medical bill than you expected, this information will come in handy.
  2. Ask your healthcare provider if you can get your x-ray in an outpatient setting. 
  3. Check that all providers are in-network. Sometimes a provider who treats you will be out-of-network (such as a radiologist or x-ray technician). You can avoid this by asking your physician whether all of the providers who will treat you are in-network for your insurance. 
  4. Ask what the typical cost is if the physician finds other areas that need to be examined during your x-ray.

Finding a fair price for your x-ray

The cost of an x-ray can vary widely between areas—and even within a single facility—and it can be difficult to know if you are paying a fair price. New Choice Health compares x-ray costs across healthcare facilities to give you the confidence that you’re getting the best value for your procedure. Use New Choice Health’s comparison tool to save money on your x-ray today.

How are x-rays different from other diagnostic imaging scans?

An x-ray is a diagnostic imaging procedure that can show your healthcare provider the inner workings of your body. It’s a fast, painless scan that can be used in a wide range of medical situations, such as diagnosing the cause of chest pain, checking for broken bones, and monitoring cancer growth. X-rays are the most widely used imaging procedure, but they’re not the only one out there. Here, we’ll dig into other common diagnostic imaging tests and see how they stack up against x-rays.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scans Vs. X-rays

A computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging test that creates pictures of organs, bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues inside the body. CT scans use the same ionizing radiation as x-rays to produce images of the body’s internal structures. The major difference is that CT scans are a series of x-rays taken from many different angles. After the scan, a computer combines all the x-rays to create a cross-sectional image. Sometimes, a technician will take multiple CT scans and combine them to create a three-dimensional image.

Like an x-ray, a CT scan can help your healthcare provider diagnose and monitor the condition of your internal organs, bones, and other tissues. Because CT scans involve combining many different images, they offer a clearer view of your internal structures than a regular x-ray. CT scans are commonly used to diagnose and evaluate joint and bone issues, certain diseases and cancers, internal bleeding, and blood clots.

CT scans are typically performed at outpatient centers, and the process can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. The procedure is quick and painless, so you’ll be awake for the scan. If you have the procedure in your provider’s office, they’ll be able to discuss your results immediately. If you have your scan done at an imaging center, a radiologist will interpret the images and send the results to your provider. 

The national average cost for a CT scan is $3,275.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans Vs. X-rays

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that helps a healthcare provider understand how your body’s organs and tissues are working. Before your PET scan, you’ll receive a radioactive tracer through an IV. The tracer will travel through your body and gather in spaces with high levels of chemical activity (this typically includes your organs). Any areas where the tracer gathers will show brightly in the pictures created during the scan. 

PET scans are commonly used to detect and evaluate:

  • Brain disorders and other brain conditions
  • Areas of decreased blood flow to the heart
  • Lung masses
  • Certain types of cancer, especially during and after cancer treatment

Unlike an x-ray, a PET scan maps out how your blood flows to and from your organs. Since a PET scan creates a picture of your body’s structures at a cellular level, it can be used for the early detection of different diseases.

PET scans are typically done at outpatient centers, and most people go home right after the scan. The procedure is painless, but your provider may prescribe a mild sedative to help with back pain or claustrophobia. After your PET scan, a radiologist will examine the images and send the results to your physician.

The national average cost for a PET scan is $5,750.

MRIs Vs. X-rays

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the only procedure on this list that doesn’t use radiation to create images of the inside of your body. Instead, the MRI machine uses magnets, radio waves, and a computer to generate and display the pictures. MRIs are usually used to take pictures of the soft tissues in your body — such as organs, muscles, and nerves — not the bones. They tend to produce much clearer images than x-rays and CT scans.

MRIs can help a healthacare provider detect or evaluate:

  • Injuries or more severe diseases in the brain, spinal cord, and internal organs
  • Muscle tears
  • Herniations
  • Tumors
  • Heart disease
  • The progression of chronic health conditions during and after treatment

An MRI can be performed at a hospital or outpatient imaging facility. Scans can take 30 minutes to two hours to complete, depending on the reason for the procedure. MRIs are painless, so most people aren’t sedated for the scan. However, your provider may prescribe medication to make the scan more comfortable if you have claustrophobia or PTSD or it’s painful for you to lay still. After your MRI, a radiologist will interpret your scans and send the results to your doctor.

The national average cost of an MRI is $1,325.

Finding A Fair Price For Any Medical Imaging Procedure

No matter which imaging test your provider recommends, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting charged a fair price. Unfortunately, finding an upfront cost for your procedure can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. New Choice Health cuts through the conflicting information for you, so you know your financial responsibility before you have your scan done. Use New Choice Health’s comparison tool to find the best price for your imaging test today.

What can you expect from a chest x-ray?

A chest x-ray can show your doctor the inner workings of some of your body’s most vital organs, bones, and tissues. It uses a small dose of ionizing radiation to create a picture of the inside of your chest, including your heart, lungs, chest bones, and blood vessels.

Chest x-rays are the most common x-ray procedure performed in the United States, largely due to their convenience and efficiency. The procedure is fast, painless, and requires little to no preparation, making it an ideal tool for diagnosing chest pain in emergency situations as well as monitoring chest conditions over time.

What can a chest x-ray show?

A lot of vital processes happen inside your chest. It’s the home of your heart and lungs, which are responsible for supplying your entire body with oxygen and blood. A chest x-ray can help your healthcare provider assess how everything’s working and diagnose any medical conditions in that area that may need treatment. They can use the picture to examine:

  • The size and shape of your heart
  • Blood vessels near your heart, including veins, aorta, and pulmonary arteries
  • Calcium deposits in your heart or blood vessels
  • The condition of your lungs
  • The condition of your ribs and spine
  • Internal changes during recovery from chest surgery
  • Pacemaker, defibrillator, or catheter placement

Why might your doctor recommend a chest x-ray?

Your healthcare provider may recommend a chest x-ray if you’re experiencing any symptoms that could be caused by problems in your chest, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Bad or persistent cough
  • Fever

They may also suggest a chest x-ray to monitor any known conditions in your chest, which may include:

  • Recovery from heart, lung, or other surgery
  • Broken ribs or spinal injuries
  • Pneumonia
  • Fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema)
  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart failure or other heart conditions
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Placement of medical devices

How should you prepare for your chest x-ray?

You won’t have to do much to prepare for your chest x-ray. Plan to wear comfortable, loose, metal-free fitting clothing to your appointment (although your technician may have you change into a medical gown before your scan). You’ll have to take off your jewelry, glasses, and hairpins before your x-ray, so leave any non-essential accessories at home. Let your doctor know if you have any body piercings, as they may either ask you to remove them or replace your body jewelry with a plastic or acrylic alternative. 

What happens during a chest x-ray?

During the procedure, the x-ray technician will capture images of your chest from different angles. To do this, they’ll have you stand in front of a metal x-ray plate while they use the machine to take pictures. First, you’ll stand with your back to the plate and your hands on your hips while they take x-rays of the front of your chest. Then, you’ll stand with your side to the plate and your hands in the air above your head so the technician can photograph the side of your chest. 

If you cannot stand, the technician may position you lying on a table and take the pictures from there. Whether you’re standing or lying down, the whole process should only take a few minutes. Make sure to stay as still as possible while getting your x-rays taken because any movement can blur the pictures.

You may need to wait in the office while the technician or doctor reviews your images. If they’re blurry, they may have you retake some of the x-rays. Once you’re finished, your images will be sent to a radiologist for review. Then, they’ll send a report to your healthcare provider so they can discuss your results with you.

What are the risks of a chest x-ray?

Chest x-rays carry the same risk as any diagnostic imaging test that uses ionizing radiation. Exposure to radiation carries a slight risk of cancer. However, the dosage used in x-rays is so small that the benefit of an accurate diagnosis significantly outweighs the risk. No radiation stays in your body after the x-ray exam, and no side effects are associated with this procedure.

How can you find a fair price for your chest x-ray?

It can be difficult — bordering on impossible — to find an accurate price for your chest x-ray before you go in for the procedure. You may find some luck asking the facility for a cost estimate, but not always. Even when you get an estimate, it doesn’t always include all the extra fees you may find on your final bill. New Choice Health’s cost comparison tool can help you compare chest x-ray prices from different facilities in your area and choose which one is right for you. Visit our site to get started today!

What is an x-ray?

An x-ray is a noninvasive procedure that produces images of the inside of your body. X-rays are quick and painless, and they help medical providers detect and monitor a wide range of conditions. You’re probably already familiar with how x-rays can be used to diagnose broken bones or look for cavities in your teeth. However, their work doesn’t stop there. X-rays can also help your provider look at your heart, lungs, and other internal structures.

X-rays are often performed in hospitals by trained radiologists, but they can also be done at other facilities, including doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, diagnostic imaging facilities, and dentists’ offices.

How does an x-ray work?

X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation. They have higher energy than other types of electromagnetic waves, such as visible light, allowing them to pass through objects. X-ray images are taken by passing x-rays through your body onto an x-ray detector (either photographic film or a sensor that makes digital images). 

As the x-rays pass through your body, they’re partially absorbed by your bones and other internal structures. Different types of tissue absorb different amounts of radiation, affecting how clearly they appear in an x-ray image. The denser the tissue, the harder it is for x-rays to pass through, and the brighter it looks in the picture.

Bones are relatively dense, so they absorb more radiation and show up as bright white on the x-ray image. Organs, muscles, fat, and other tissues are less dense, so they show up as shades of gray. The air in your lungs has the least density, so it appears black.

When does a doctor recommend an x-ray?

Your doctor may recommend an x-ray whenever they need to look at your bones, organs, or other internal tissues to diagnose or evaluate a medical condition. Common reasons for x-ray scans include:

  • Breaks, fractures, or infections in bones
  • Arthritis and osteoporosis
  • Dental problems, such as cavities, loose teeth, or abscesses
  • Lung infections and tumors
  • Heart problems 
  • Chest pain
  • Scoliosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Blockages in blood vessels
  • Digestive tract problems
  • Swallowed items

What happens during and after your x-ray?

You probably won’t have to do much — if anything — to prepare for your x-ray. The one exception is if you’re getting an x-ray with contrast. Then, your physician may ask you to avoid food, drink, and certain medications a few hours before your scan. Try to wear loose, comfortable clothing and remove all jewelry before getting your x-ray.

If you’re getting an x-ray with contrast, you’ll get the contrast medium before your start, either by drinking it, having it injected, or receiving it in an enema. Then, when you’re ready for your x-ray, you’ll either lie on a table or stand in front of a flat surface. Your radiographer will aim the x-ray machine at the part of your body that’s being examined. (The machine will look kind of like a tube with a giant light bulb inside.)

The radiographer will tell you how to position your body and ask you to stay still while they capture the pictures. Sometimes, they may take images of the same body part from different angles, so your doctor can get the most complete picture of your condition. You won’t feel the x-ray at all. The process should take only a few minutes unless you get a more complicated procedure, such as an x-ray with contrast.

Are there risks in getting an x-ray?

It’s natural to be concerned about radiation exposure from an x-ray. The level of radiation you’ll be exposed to depends on which part of your body is being examined, but it’s generally low and only lasts a fraction of a second. The National Health Service compares it to the natural radiation you’re exposed to daily from your environment. Their research suggests that an x-ray has less than a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of causing cancer. 

Note: Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant before you get an x-ray. They may recommend an alternate procedure, such as an ultrasound, to avoid exposing your unborn baby to extra radiation.

Contrast mediums used in some x-rays may sometimes cause mild side effects, including itching, a metallic taste, warmness or flushing, nausea, and hives. Severe side effects are rare but may include severe allergic reactions and cardiac arrest.

Your doctor will weigh the potential risks of an x-ray with the diagnostic benefits before making their recommendation. They should be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you have before your x-ray.

What should an x-ray cost?

The national average cost of an x-ray in the U.S. is $125, but the price you pay could differ by hundreds of dollars or more. New Choice Health’s cost comparison tool can help you compare x-ray prices across different facilities in your area so you know you’re getting the best deal. Simply enter your zip code and receive quotes from local healthcare providers so you can compare and save. Click here to get started.

What’s the difference between gastric sleeve and duodenal switch?

Gastric sleeve and duodenal switch are two types of weight loss surgery. Bariatric procedures like these can help people with obesity or obesity-related health problems lose weight when diet and lifestyle changes aren’t working. There are many options for bariatric surgery, and while your doctor can help you understand the difference between the procedures, the choice is ultimately up to you.

Here, we’ll dig into two popular bariatric surgeries — gastric sleeve and duodenal switch. For each, you’ll learn:

  • What happens during surgery
  • Who qualifies for surgery
  • What you can expect during recovery
  • How much weight you can lose
  • The average cost of the procedure

What happens during gastric sleeve surgery?

During gastric sleeve surgery, also called sleeve gastrectomy, a doctor operates through a series of small incisions in your abdomen. They use a stapler to separate your stomach into two parts, then create a seal along the staple line. They remove the outer section — about 80% of your stomach — leaving a small “sleeve” about the size of a banana.

Gastric sleeve surgery causes weight loss by permanently limiting the amount of food you can eat in one sitting. It also decreases your appetite by reducing your stomach’s ability to create hunger-causing hormones.

What happens during duodenal switch surgery?

Duodenal switch (DS) surgery happens in two parts. First, the surgeon performs a sleeve gastrectomy (described in the previous section). Then, they disconnect the stomach from the small intestine and reattach it farther down. As a result, food goes directly from your stomach to the end of the small intestine, bypassing about 80 to 90% of your small bowel. 

Like gastric sleeve, duodenal switch limits your food intake to help with weight loss. However, it goes a step further by shortening the path through your digestive system and reducing the amount of nutrients and calories your body can absorb from food.

Loop duodenal switch surgery (SADI)

Single anastomosis duodenal switch surgery (SADI), also called a loop duodenal switch, improves on traditional duodenal switch surgery. Both procedures have the same two steps: removing part of the stomach and rerouting the small intestine. However, with loop duodenal switch, the small intestine is only severed in one place, near the stomach. (Traditional DS involves an extra cut farther down the small intestine.) 

SADI causes weight loss just like traditional duodenal switch — by limiting food intake and nutrient absorption. Because it involves fewer alterations to the small intestine (dividing and reconnecting the small intestine in one place instead of two), SADI is associated with a lower risk of complications and malnutrition than DS.

Who qualifies for gastric sleeve and duodenal switch surgery?

Most weight loss surgeries have the same basic qualifications. Patients must either have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher OR have a BMI of 35 to 40 with at least one obesity-related health condition. Those with a BMI of 30 or higher with uncontrollable type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome may also qualify for gastric sleeve surgery.

Duodenal switch surgery is a little different. For both traditional and loop duodenal switch surgeries, patients must have a BMI of 50 or higher OR a severe form of obesity-related disease. DS and SADI have the greatest weight loss potential of all bariatric surgeries, but they also have an increased risk of complications. These procedures are recommended when the health benefits outweigh the potential risks.

What is recovery like after gastric sleeve and duodenal switch surgery?

No matter which type of bariatric surgery you have, you’ll need to follow strict guidelines to reintroduce foods into your diet during your recovery. For the first week after your surgery, you’ll be on a clear liquid diet. After that, you’ll slowly add in different food groups, in this order

  1. Non-clear liquids
  2. Pureed foods
  3. Soft foods
  4. Solid foods (normal diet)

Each step of this process may take around a week or more, depending on how your body adjusts after your surgery. Your provider will also recommend taking specific vitamins after your procedure to help make up for your decreased food intake. Even after you’re fully recovered, these vitamins should remain a regular part of your daily routine.

How much weight can you lose with gastric sleeve and duodenal switch?

You’ll need to make healthy lifestyle changes to see the best weight loss results after your surgery. These include cutting out high-calorie snacks, eating nutrient-dense foods, and exercising regularly. With the right effort, patients can typically lose around 60% of their excess weight in the two years following their gastric sleeve surgery. For duodenal switch and SADI, this number is around 80%.

What does gastric sleeve cost compared to duodenal switch?

The average cost of gastric sleeve surgery in the U.S. is $16,750, and duodenal switch surgery is $22,580. However, the actual price you pay could be thousands more. New Choice Health’s Bariatric Surgery Patient Assist Program can help you find a fair price for your procedure, as well as cash pay discounts and financing options that can lower your out-of-pocket costs for the surgery.

6 Phases of Your Hip Surgery Recovery Timeline

You may start to feel pain relief almost immediately after your total hip replacement surgery, thanks to the removal of the inflamed and damaged tissue that caused the discomfort. However, complete recovery after your surgery will take some time. As you regain strength and mobility in your hip, you’ll be able to reintroduce different activities into your daily routine. 

Recovery times are different for everyone. How long it takes for your hip joint to recover depends on your age, activity level, and overall health. We created this hip replacement surgery recovery timeline to give people like you an idea of what to expect in the days, weeks, and months after your procedure.

The day of your hip replacement surgery

After your hip replacement surgery, you’ll stay in a recovery room for a few hours while your anesthesia wears off. During this time, your medical team will monitor your pain levels and blood pressure to keep an eye out for any complications. They’ll also give you medication to help prevent infection and blood clots. You’ll need to stick to a liquid diet for the rest of the day. But, there’s a good chance you’ll get to go home the day of your surgery.

1 to 3 days after your hip replacement surgery

You should be able to get out of bed (with help) as soon as the day after your surgery. By day 3, you should be able to go to the bathroom by yourself. From the first days of your recovery, it’s important to try to get up and walk around a few times a day, according to your surgeon’s instructions. Walking after surgery can help strengthen muscles, improve blood and oxygen flow, and speed up the healing process.

During this time, you’ll meet with physical and occupational therapists. Their job is to teach you how to move with your new joint as you recover. They’ll teach you the right way to walk with a cane or walker, if needed, and show you specific exercises that can help you regain the use of your muscles and hip joint.

1 week after your hip replacement surgery

During the first week after surgery, you will need to follow your surgeon’s instructions to prevent infection in your wound. This includes:

  • Taking sponge baths while keeping your incision clean and dry.
  • Reporting any fever, increased redness, or swelling to your doctor right away.

By the end of this week, you’ll probably need less pain medication throughout the day. Make sure to keep up with your physical therapy exercises, as well as any movements your provider recommends to decrease your risk of blood clots.

2 weeks after your hip replacement surgery

Around 10 to 14 days after your surgery, your doctor will remove your stitches or staples. After that, you can start showering normally again. Consider getting a shower seat before your surgery to make bathing easier during your recovery. The two-week mark is also when you should be able to start walking normally (without a cane or walker) after your hip replacement.

4 to 6 weeks after your hip replacement surgery

In the month and a half following your hip replacement, you’ll be able to start introducing more and more activities into your daily routine. If you are off pain medication by this point, your physician may clear you to start driving again. They may also clear you to have sex around 6 weeks after the procedure — as long as you avoid positions that may put a strain on your hip.

As you start feeling better, it’s still crucial that you keep up with your physical therapy exercises and avoid sitting for long periods of time. This is the best way to regain strength and mobility in your hip joint.

12 weeks after your hip replacement surgery and beyond

Around three months after your hip replacement surgery, you should be cleared to return to all of your normal activities. However, it can take up to 6 months to a year to completely recover from the surgery. Throughout the different stages of your recovery, your physical therapist will help by teaching you exercises to improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and restore your balance and flexibility.

How to schedule your hip replacement surgery

When you’re ready to schedule your total hip replacement, your next step is to find a surgeon you trust. Using the New Choice Health Patient Assist program, you can search for top-rated, affordable hip replacement surgeons in your area.

Visit our Orthopedic Surgery Assistance page to learn more.