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1.5T vs. 3.0T MRI Machines

Differences between 1.5T vs. 3.0T MRI Machines: pros and cons of each unit

Overview of Differences

So many decisions and so many products to choose from.  

Remember,  there are more things to consider besides cost when purchasing an MRI machine. Such as location, shielding, and safety. In today’s article we will go over the differences between 1.5T vs. 3.0T. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each unit.

Things to Consider before Purchasing an MRI Machine

  1. Cost: What is your budget? For most imaging departments this will be the limiting factor. (1.5 T units are budget friendly and the obvious choice)
  2. Cases performed: Abdomens, extremities, etc. can be performed on 1.5T and 3.0T MRI machines. If performing vascular, neuro and brain, or other intricate exams where detail is the priority, then 3.0T is the better choice.
  3. Patient volume: Full schedule where speed is the priority or turnaround times aren’t critical. 3.0T machines can provide accurate images in less time versus 1.5 T machines
  4. Patient population: pediatrics, bariatric patients etc. If scanning larger patients the bore size of the magnet will be a consideration along with magnetic strength.

For reference, Tesla indicates the strength of a magnetic field. 1.5T is about 15,000 gauss, which is 30,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the earth.

3.0T is double the strength which means it is 60,000 times stronger than

magnetic field of the earth. This doubles the scan times and produces more detailed images.

Many imaging centers go with the 1.5T MRI because the units’ friendlier budget and are safer to use. Patients with implantable devices such as pace makers and cardiac stents can be scanned in 1.5T units.  

1.5T vs. 3.0T MRI Machines

Types of casesBrain, neuro, and vascular studies can be done without contrast. Along with general procedures.Neuro and vascular work can be done with contrast.
Scan TimesQuick scan times ideal for high volume imaging centers.Takes quality images but the scans take longer.
Image Quality  
Patient size        
Greater S/N ratio giving better images and thinner slices. Vascular and neuro studies can be done without contrast. Blurry images due to patient motion are eliminated. Patients with surgical implants cannot be scanned. Patients need to be prequalified before the scan   Ideal for larger patients or bariatric patients. Needs more shielding which adds cost to the unit.Image quality is adequate for most practices. However, details in ortho studies and vascular studies may be missed. Contrast must be used in vascular studies     Patients with implantable devices can be scanned.      

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When purchasing an MRI, safety and cost are the two main things to consider.

1.5T vs. 3.0T machines both take quality images, but 3.0T machines are faster.

The 1.5T MRI unit can take beautiful images and it is the workhorse in most imaging facilities. Plus, most implantable devices are safe to go into a 1.5T MRI unit vs. 3.0T MRI unit.

If speed is the priority, then 3.0T is the go-to unit. It takes thinner slices with better spatial resolution in less time. But keep in mind the safety issues are a big drawback along with the extra shielding needed with this massive magnet. Patients with implantable devices may not be scanned. Also, ferromagnetic materials (O2 tanks, IV poles etc. can get sucked into the bore of the magnet.)

Consider going with refurbished equipment to save on cost. Even a good refurbished 3.0 T unit can be found for a reduced price.  Also, due to the pandemic elective MRI procedures were cancelled forcing Immediate care facilities and private practices to sell of their MRI units.  So, its possible to find used state of the art equipment for a reduced price.

Why Choose Amber

Amber has quality used and refurbished 3.0T and 1.5T machines. Amber leads the industry for refurbishing equipment. Call Amber now and let one of our customer representatives talk with you about your MRI needs.

During the initial call, our experienced engineers will walk you through the process of installing an MRI unit from start to finish. We know what it’s like to purchase a capital piece of equipment: budgets and time constraints are something we can help with. Rest assured after your MRI unit is installed Amber will be their for additional support and warranty.


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