Do You Know the Difference Between 1.5T and 3T MRI Machines?

by Jeff Hough Program Manager
Overview of How an MRI Machine Works

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine operates by jointly using a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce an image. These magnetic fields are produced in varying degrees of strength, which is measured in Teslas (T), the standard unit of magnetic flux density. MRI machines of today range from 0.35T to 10.5T, with 1.5T and 3.0T being the most popular. The strength of the magnet will directly determine the quality of the images produced, as well as the time it takes to produce the images. This article is a review of the main difference between 1.5T and 3.0T MRI machines.

1.5T Versus 3.0T MRI Machines

One of the most apparent differences between 1.5T and 3.0T MRI machines is that 3.0T machines have a field strength that is twice as powerful, strengthening its signal to noise ratio. The stronger the signal the better the image because it allows more spatial resolution and greater contrast detection. The difference in the resolution of the images produced between the 1.5T and the 3.0T leads to differences in the types of exams they can perform. 

Today, 1.5T MRI machines are the standard in most clinical settings. This type of machine can scan patients quickly and provide an accurate diagnosis for most studies. While its field strength is less than that of the 3.0T variety, it is plenty strong to make a great image. These MRI machines also come with a few advantages including fewer artifacts, compatibility with implants, quieter operation, and simplified room configurations. 

3.0T MRI machines provide clear, vivid images which makes them particularly adept in areas like neurology, prostate, cardiac, musculoskeletal (particularly small parts), and breast. The added field strength and improved signal to noise ratio can produce a more detailed images of soft tissue.

The downside of 3.0T MRI machines is that the increased signal picked up from a patient’s body can lead to more artifacts on the image. A 3.0T machine has a higher likelihood of artifacts due to the movement of blood and bodily fluids. As an example, some physicians stray from using 3.0T machines on breast and related exams because the studies can be too detailed, leading to unnecessary call backs and interventional exams. 

MRI Machine Cost

Cost is typically the main consideration when purchasing medical equipment, and the difference between a 1.5T MRI machine and a 3.0T MRI machine is quite notable. A new 1.5T MRI machine can range from $1,100,000 - $1,500,000, which is quite a bit lower than the average cost of a new 3.0T MRI machine: $1,600,000 - $2,200,000. This difference in price is also noticeable when comparing the cost of a used 1.5T versus 3.0T MRI machine, which range from $400,000 - $900,000 for 1.5T and $900,000 - $1,400,000 for 3.0T.

Speed/Patient Throughput

A shorter scan time is important to facilities with high patient volumes and where fast diagnosis is necessary.  With a 1.5T MRI machine, you can speed up scan times with minimally sacrificing the quality of the image. It is possible to maintain image quality with longer sequencing 1.5T scans, however, this can create bottlenecks in your imaging department and can affect wait times, patient satisfaction, and ultimately your revenue. Facilities that have a lower patient volume will benefit from a 1.5T MRI machine. 3.0T MRI machines allow for faster scanner times, and as a result more patient throughout. A 1.5T MRI machine can often do the same job as a 3.0T MRI machine so be sure to assess your facility’s needs before making a purchase.


Another difference between 1.5T and 3.0T MRI machines is siting of the machine. Special ventilation is required to cool an MRI machine and some 3.0T machines create additional heat. You may also find that your MRI machine might require supplementary floor support to handle the additional weight of the equipment. In effect, this may restrict some facilities to 1.5T machines, unless they opt to renovate and update their rooms to bear the weight. A similar difference stems from the shielding used on the magnets, which is understandably greater for 3.0T MRI machines that utilize a magnetic field that is double the strength.

Final Thoughts

Both 1.5T and 3.0T MRI machines provide high image quality, making either option an acceptable one.  If your facility needs to make precise diagnosis that requires detailed images, or has a high patient volume, it may be worth investing in a 3.0T MRI machine. If you are looking for an MRI machine for sale or want to know more information, get in touch with a representative at Meridian Leasing. We will help you determine which system is best for you and your needs.

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About Jeff Hough Freshman   Program Manager

3 connections, 0 recommendations, 20 honor points.
Joined APSense since, February 28th, 2019, From Deerfield, United States.

Created on Oct 7th 2019 03:12. Viewed 222 times.


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