What It’s Like to Get a Prenuvo Scan, the Full-Body MRI That Might Just Save Your Life

Like any other sane human being, I’m terrified of dying. No, really, it consumes my thoughts. I work out obsessively, hoping to postpone its inevitable arrival, and scan the obituary pages to see how people are croaking these days, searching for ways to reduce my chances. As a result, I’m woefully aware that cancer rates in people under 50 are on a steep rise—especially colon cancer—and it bothers me that we don’t have any clear indication as to why. Finding out that stress is linked to many of the leading causes of death, heart disease, and suicide among them—well, it stresses me out.

So when I got the chance to try out Prenuvo, I jumped. For the uninitiated, Prenuvo is a preventive full-body MRI scan that can reportedly catch developing diseases and, more broadly, give you a snapshot of your physiological state. It can see cysts, tumors, skeletal imbalances, hernias, fatty tissue build-up, and on and on. Reading through the list of potential issues it can pinpoint made me realize that there are  so many more potential ailments I could be anxious about—I’d barely scratched the surface. What is Myxoma, is it deadly, and do I have it? Probably!

More from Robb Report

The lobby of Prenuvo's N.Y.C. clinic.
The lobby of Prenuvo’s N.Y.C. clinic.

Prenuvo got some press last year when it launched, thanks to influencers and celebrity users including Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Cindy Crawford is a backer along with 23&Me CEO Anne Wojcicki. It’s not without its criticisms: at a cost of $1,000 (for your torso) to $2,500 (for your whole body) it is, indeed, something of a pricey elective procedure that some have suggested is just another diversion for the affluent. Still, the TV host Maria Menounos was able to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages with a Prenuvo scan, so it’s clearly beneficial for some people.

Moreover, Prenuvo falls into the popular category of products and services that track our metabolic processes. Tools such as Oura rings, Apple Watches, and other fitness tracking devices are allegedly keeping tabs on our various internal rhythms to paint a holistic picture of our health at any given moment. As a human being, I have doubts—I’m so much more than the sum of my data!—but as a death-fearer, the resulting knowledge brings me a modicum of peace.

So on a recent brisk morning, I went to the Prenuvo offices in midtown Manhattan, checked in, and was escorted to a changing room and supplied with baggy cotton scrubs. The space isn’t warm or luxurious like a high-end gym or medspa, but it does have a sort of restrained sterility—beige, white, and pops of blue and gold—which somehow conveys medical efficacy with just a hint of sophistication. (Prenuvo recently partnered with Sollis Health to offer its scans to members, but you still have to go to the main facility for the MRI.)

Then comes the big scan. In the days leading up to it, you’re told that you will need to lay still for the better part of an hour, encased in a coffin-like contraption, and that you can’t eat for the four or so hours leading up to it. I didn’t find the confinement all that distressing, though claustrophobics should be well warned. In fact, I was told that I could watch a show or movie while entombed (I chose the last episode of Netflix’s Beckham documentary) and I laid down flat, settling in.

The Prenuvo scan can detect everything from cysts to cancer, skeletal imalances, and more.
The Prenuvo scan can detect everything from cysts to cancer, skeletal imbalances, and more.

Throughout the process, you are told by a friendly voice to hold your breath and remain absolutely still as the scan focuses on certain parts of your body—your head, your chest, your stomach, and so on—and these audible cues help keep the hour moving along with some sense of purpose and connection to the outside world. In a strange turn, you do feel the rays vibrating through your body; It’s not unlike the sensation felt when you get an X-ray at the dentist’s office. When I left I felt scrambled, for lack of a better word, like what I would imagine you’d feel like the day after being struck by lightning. My body was buzzing. It wasn’t unpleasant, per se, but it was a reminder that invisible rays of energy had moved around and through my body.

It takes about a week to get the results, and I’d be lying if I didn’t mull over what Prenuvo could find. I’m only 40, I thought—much too young to die—but those accelerating cancer rates certainly are worrying. Would quitting cigarettes and booze a few years back and channeling all that energy into group fitness classes be enough to turn back time? If Prenuvo did find something, would it be early enough to save me like Maria Menounos? My mind raced.

The truth is, it didn’t find much—a small benign cyst in my kidney, some imbalances in my neck and spine, and minor signs of scoliosis (mostly from sitting all day hunched over a computer and staring at my phone). Minor stuff. I didn’t feel a wave of relief, but maybe a return to my normal levels of simmering anxiety.

The lobby of N.Y.C.'s Sollis Health, a private clinic which has partnered with Prenuvo.
The lobby of N.Y.C.’s Sollis Health, a private clinic which has partnered with Prenuvo.

While a clean bill of health from Prenuvo was certainly nice, there are so many variables still at play — ironically enough I was almost hit by a car on my way back from my scan (I was looking at Instagram while idly crossing the street, natch). Sadly, Prenuvo can’t tell me what I really want to know — when I’ll die, how I’ll die, it if will be fast and painless or slow and miserable. If I’ll be surrounded by my loved ones or if it’ll be like a screen going blank, like the end of The Sopranos. Is there an afterlife? That sort of stuff.

Those, dear friends, are the mysteries of life that no scan can tell us. Still, later that night when my foot went numb as I lay in bed, I didn’t assume it was the beginning of a heart attack or aneurysm as I normally would. Some may balk at $2,500 for a full body scan, but in that moment of peace, it was priceless.

Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.