*Note- this 2011 article is updated to include 2018 price averages*
For those of us who deal with used MRI machines every day, there is no such thing as “too good to be true”. If it smells like a rat, it almost always is.
Still, it's 100% true that you can get a great deal on today’s secondary market on a high quality, well cared-for, used MRI machine – but that is only half the fun. Whether the other half is also fun depends a great deal on the situation at the site and the logistics involved. We'll have more on that in a moment, but first:
Used MRI Machine Price Guide
The cost of the equipment itself is important, but that’s only part of the equation – maybe there’s a less obvious reason the price is so... reasonable. Here are some things to think about after you’ve negotiated that great price to buy your used MRI machine.
Speed Will Get You There, But It Can Also Kill You
As mentioned in one of our older posts, 4 Basic Questions to Ask Before Buying an MRI Scanner, “If you find the system you are looking for, from a reputable and vetted company, and if you’re sure it meets your needs and can be made available in your timeframe… buy it! Or at very least, lock it down."
Once you have the system locked down, you’re not doing yourself any favors by hurrying through the due diligence process. Make sure you know what you’re buying. Have the MRI inspected. Either inspect it yourself (perhaps with your tech) or hire an engineer (we can provide that service). This is likely to cost you somewhere between $1,500 - $3,000 but it is well worth every penny. Take the time to get to know your equipment, its history, and performance before you send the final balance.
Cables, Tables, Amps, and Ramps
Talented engineers who can properly handle MRIs are invaluable, but they work best in their native habitat. Most specialize and are very good at what they do in their area of specialty. Find one who is deeply familiar with the make and model you're considering.
If your project involves an installation at another site it is best to use the same engineer at both ends. If you don’t, and there's a hiccuo in the project along the way, the chance for finger pointing skyrockets.
Expect to spend around $10,000 for a deinstallation and allow 2-3 days to get it done right. Make sure the engineers thoroughly test the MRI prior to taking it off field (i.e. ramping it down) to make sure it is 100% functional and operating within OEM specification when they leave.
The 10,000 lb. gorilla in the room – does he belong to you?
Someone put your current MRI into the room and someone can take it out again – preferably that same someone – call them first.
The exit pathway is important and in many cases can be the biggest unexpected cost associated with an MRI purchase (or sale). Professional riggers do this every day – use one that is familiar with medical equipment.
First floor removals and rooms adjacent to exterior walls are the norm, but there are exceptions. For a “normal” or "standard" removal, expect to spend approximately $10,000 - $12,000 to get the magnet safely onto your truck. For a non-standard removal, you're likely to spend thousands more.
What’s down the road?
The previous points apply to nearly all MRI projects. What happens once the system is out of its room of origin depends upon your unique situation. Will it be traveling internationally, or going down the road a few miles to another site? Will it be reinstalled or warehoused? Each one of these situations could fill another article on their own (stay tuned).
But, assuming the MRI is going to be reinstalled domestically, and assuming it is a super-conductive (uses liquid helium) magnet, it will need to move quickly to avoid excessive helium “boil-off” once it is off power.
It has been said before (but worth saying again) that freight carriers should be used who are comfortable with this type of equipment. We’ve had personal experience with nervous truck drivers, venting helium, and the red valve – don’t go there. Expect to spend around $5,000-$10,000 for overland domestic transport, depending on location.
Time to Fire It Up
Before that system starts chirping away again, it must be rigged into an “MRI-ready” room (with proper dimensions to account for the magnetic field and including RF shielding, HVAC, etc.).
Most companies who perform MRI installation work will provide site planning as well. Use this – it can solve countless headaches. The installation of your MRI is a complicated project and involves ramping it back up to field, laying miles of cable, precision tuning, and shimming, all of which requires expertise and sensitive (and expensive) tools.
Expect to spend between $50,000 and $80,000 for a “typical” installation for a 1.5T MRI System and inquire about ongoing service costs as well.
MRI Projects are complicated and costly operations, and they typically involve many subcontractors - whether they are managed by the OEM or by an Independent organization.
Fortunately, there are companies involved in each aspect described above who do this every day. And we think it’s fun. And we like to talk about it. Block Imaging is one of those companies – give us a call and let’s discuss!
Written by Steve Rentz
Steve Rentz is the Product Manager for MRI Scanners at Block Imaging. He is also a husband, father of 3, triathlete, woodworker, and barbecue master. Steve’s goal is to earn each customer’s trust and business by specifically addressing the needs of their unique project.