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3T or not 3T: That is the Question?

September 5, 2008
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I recently had a discussion regarding the differences between 1.5T and 3T MRI systems. Of course there are obvious differences such as; cost, magnet strength and core qualities but where is the value add and benefits in implementing a 3T MRI verses a high end 1.5T MRI? This discussion sparked questions about exam workflow, image quality and scanning speed among others. The discussion went on for a half hour and we all agreed that researching the benefits of the 3T MRI systems and their applications would be the only way to answer our questions…

I began researching that night on the internet and continued the next day by calling a few MRI Technologists and MRI vendors. Below are a few differences / benefits I was able to identify;

1.5T MRI Systems

3T MRI Systems

Lower Magnetic Field Strength

Twice the Magnetic Field Strength

Lower Signal to Noise Ratio – Less Sensitive

Higher Signal to Noise Ration – More Sensitive

Lower Image Contrast in soft tissue

Higher Image Contrast in soft tissue

Motion artifacts more severe

Image inhomogeneity was more prominent

Longer scanning times

Shorter scanning times

Overall lower image quality

Overall higher image quality

Standard benefits of 3T MRI Systems include;

  • a platform for a wider range of advanced applications
  • increased resolution
  • accelerated throughput
  • market leadership

In short it appears that 3T MRI Systems are not just stronger but also more efficient and more equipped to adapt to the future demands of MRI exams. A name brand MRI vendor told me 3T scanners can perform routine MRI scans and add value by creating and handling additional volume with newer offerings such as breast MRI, MR angiography and cardiac scanning which makes them more valuable than a 1.5T system.

Write back and tell me your opinion / experience with 1.5T versus 3T MRI systems.

Do you think that a 3T MRI system is worth the extra $$$$ ??

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