Magnetic Resonance Systems: A Look at the Whole Field

July 1, 2010 | Evaluations & Guidance


Magnetic resonance (MR) equipment is extremely complex, and the image quality it provides is dependent on numerous factors. When adjusted properly, even the lowest-end systems sold today will provide good image quality for routine scans and may meet your facility’s needs. If, on the other hand, you want to perform the most advanced procedures or to accommodate the greatest range of patients, a top-of-the-line system is required—at a significant cost. Most hospitals will make a purchase somewhere between these extremes. Whatever your situation, you’ll be faced with a bewildering array of systems and configurations that reflect the give-and-take between cost and performance.

In this Evaluation, we look at the currently available general-purpose MR systems. To help you through the selection process, we list the major factors that you need to consider and provide ECRI Institute’s judgments on the most pertinent device specifications. In addition, we provide guidance on some major questions commonly asked by MR buyers today, such as whether three-tesla (3 T) technology is needed. (Buyers may also be interested in our March 2010 Guidance Article, “Field Equations: Cost-Saving Tips for Magnetic Resonance Systems.”)

We evaluated 22 products from 5 manufacturers (listed alphabetically):


This Evaluation features our new five-star rating system. Products we consider suitable for purchase are given a rating of one to five stars. This system replaces our former ratings of Preferred, Acceptable, and Not Recommended. We’ll still use a rating of Unacceptable if we evaluate a product that is unsuitable for purchase or use. (No such products are covered in this article.) For more about the new system, see the editorial in the March 2010 issue.

We’ve divided the evaluated systems into the five categories listed below, which we established based on typical cost. This table lists the direct competitors within each category. As can be seen in the table, the main factors affecting system cost are...

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