3T MRI vs 1.5T? Here’s how to choose…

As a technology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has changed the face of the medical industry. The MRI, which uses radio waves and magnets to create images of the insides of organs, has aided doctors in making life-saving decisions on tumors, fractures, growths, etc in the human body. Thanks to advances in MRI such as gastrointestinal, orthopaedic, cardiovascular, and neuro-imaging this state-of-the-art technology has come a long way over the years.

One of the advancements in MRI scans is the 3T MRI. The T here refers to the magnetic field strength measured in Teslas, usually between 0.5T and 3.0T.

Up until now the 1.5T MRI is adequate for most MRI scans and remains the standard in hospitals the world over. But now the 3T scanner has hit the market. As a medical institution, it helps to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the 3Ts and 1.5Ts to choose what’s best for your needs.

Here are 3 key factors where a 3T MRI machine wins out over a 1.5T machine.

1. Image clarity

A 3T system has double the field strength of a 1.5T and therefore results in extremely clear and vivid images. The image noise is also less.

2. Speed

A 3T scanner gives better image clarity at faster rates than a 1.5T. If the overall scan time is less, it can be of great value in medical diagnosis and patient comfort. Also, if your center receives a high volume of patients, speed is important. But the overall time taken by a 1.5T scanner can be reduced as well.

3. Suitability for small bones

3T is ideal for imaging small bones, breast MRI, musculoskeletal MRI, neurological MRI, and vascular MRI. It is also better when locations deep in the body need to be scanned, like the prostate for example.

But to give you the complete picture, here are 5 attributes where 1.5T MRI machines are a better choice over 3T machines.

1. Machine cost

This one is straightforward. 3T scanners are priced at almost double the cost of 1.5T MRI machines.

2. Heat generation

The strength of the 3T MRI’s magnetic field can increase the heat during the scanning process, which causes the body to heat up during the MRI examination. In fact, patients are given a squeeze ball at the start of the exam, which they can compress if they feel a burning sensation, which will then set off an alarm that stops the process.

3. Noise levels

A 3T machine may also create more heat and more sound noise compared to a 1.5T and that can make for a noisy working environment. The sound pressure level of a 3-tesla MRI scanner is 130.7 decibels (dB), whereas the noisiest sequences of a 1.5 T MRI range from 101-117 dB.

4. Availability for purchase

1.5-Tesla scanners are more popular, and therefore readily available for purchase – for both new and used models. It may take longer to purchase a 3T as they are less commonly available.

5. Implant errors

Implants can create an error called “image artifact” during an MRI scan. As the strength of the magnet increases, so does the issue with the image artifact. Implants can disrupt the imaging of a 3T scanner on account of the power of the magnet.

The bottom line

A 1.5T machine will give you results at half the price, is more readily available, and generates less noise and heat. A 3T scanner is less budget-friendly but promises clearer images in less time. In the end, it depends on the needs of your center.

Blue Star Engineering and Electronics offers the highest quality MRI scanners – both new and refurbished – that promise faster operation and clearer imaging. Contact us today for a scanner that suits your center’s diagnostic needs.

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