Looking for a 1.5T GE MRI machine? Great! Now, which model do you choose? What makes the most sense for your MRI project, and your MRI budget?
By now, you’ve probably realized that making sense of the different models offered by each manufacturer can be a daunting task, and GE is certainly no exception. Let’s take a look under the hood and break down the most popular 1.5T GE MRI models, starting with the newest.
GE 1.5T Artist
This unit was introduced in 2016 and has a 70cm bore magnet for increased patient comfort. Most notably, this system boasts up to 128 RF channels and introduced Direct Digital Interface (DDI) technology. This is a direct analog-to-digital conversion that uses fiberoptic cables to quickly transfer information from the coils to the electronics cabinets. This reduces noise and enhances SNR by up to 27%. Operators have the option of either increased speed or enhanced SNR with this new technology.
GE 1.5T Voyager
Introduced along with the Artist in 2016, the Voyager does not pack the same RF punch but is ideal for sites that desire a unit with lower power consumption. Like the Artist, the Voyager has a 70cm bore and employs DDI technology. It can be a good alternative to the Artist at a lower initial cost and operating cost.
GE 1.5T Explorer
The Explorer was introduced in 2015 and is powered by a 60cm bore, CXK4 magnet. This is the same CXK4 that has been used for over 20 years and praised for its stability and performance. Explorer systems use quiet technology which takes typical MRI noise down from rock concert levels to almost ambient– quiet enough to have a conversation in the same room. The Explorer also uses Optix technology (like the 450W below) which improves SNR. Another compelling advantage: since it uses the CXK4 magnet, any version of GE MRI that also uses the CXK4 (LX and EXCITE series) can be upgraded to an Explorer with minimal downtime and substantially reduced cost.
GE 1.5T Creator
Introduced along with the Explorer, the Creator is an 8ch, lower-cost version with the same CXK4 magnet and OpTix RF technology. It also has the same gradient strength (33 mT/m Amplitude and 120 Slew rate) that is seen in the Explorer and the LX and EXCITE line.
GE 1.5T Optima MR360 Advance
A precursor to the Explorer, and bridging the gap between the EXCITE HDXT 23X and Optima 450W, this 16-channel workhorse had its debut in 2013 and, according to GE, was “engineered to address the demand for increased performance and reduced total cost of ownership for the facility, while providing a comfortable experience for the patient.” Optix Technology was also used in this unit which, again, converts analog signal to digital within the scan room to minimize noise and enhance clarity. This unit also uses “Express coils” which can improve workflow by reducing the need to reposition coils between scans.
The GE 1.5T MRI machines we've covered so far are very new and unlikely to be found on the secondary market for another several years. Still, it's never a bad idea to be aware of what's coming down the line in your area of technology. And, if you have your heart set on the latest and greatest, we can recommend a few strategies that might help you find it sooner here: How to Find Late-Model or Rare MRI Scanners. Now, however, let's shift focus to systems that will be easier to find and acquire.
GE 1.5T Optima 450W
Launched in 2010, this system is more available on the secondary market. The 450W features a redesigned magnet (goodbye CXK4) and introduction of the “Optima” name – offered in 1.5T. The “W” in 450W means it is wide bore- 70cm, to accommodate larger patients or those who are claustrophobic. This system also features an optical R/F system, “OpTix”, which improves SNR for clean, crisp images and an efficient zero boil-off magnet. The high slew rates make this an ideal choice for cardiology and neurovascular studies.
The 450W also employs the GEM Suite which makes the most of its 32ch capability by allowing coils to be used individually or together to provide head-to-toe coverage without excessive movement of the patient. A final notable fact: Similar to upgrades using the CXK4 magnet (mentioned above), the Optima 450W uses the same magnet as the newer Artist. So, like the CXK4-based upgrades, the magnet can be retained and the system can be upgraded to an Artist with minimal downtime and a reduced price.
GE 1.5T Optima 450
The Optima 450 is the 60cm-bore version of the 450W. The system is a 1.5 HDXT machine upgraded to the current 23.0x software level, coined the “Optima Edition” hence, the new name. The important take-away with this difference is that it will still have the traditional CXK4 magnet of the LX and EXCITE series. Tricky!
GE 1.5T HDXT
Using the CXK4 magnet, this HD, high-field MRI features either the 15x or 16x software. The HDXT is still a higher-end MR, but far more common on the secondary market than the Optima and far more affordable. Many MR systems being sold as “HDXT” are the result of a series of upgrades from an original HD system. Where this is the case, be aware that if you buy a 5-year-old HDXT, the actual magnet could be 2-3 years older.
GE 1.5T HDX
The HDX is one model year below the HDXT and still uses the CXK4. With some electronic and software upgrades, this can become an HDXT (which is common, as mentioned above). 14x software is standard for this MR. Because most of the differences between the HDXT and the HDX are software-related, the price difference will not be extreme – and you’ll still get the advantages of a 16-channel system.
GE 1.5T HDe
This is an unusual build to find in the USA. The HDe is all about saving space. It's GE’s most compact system, reducing space requirements by 30% with a significantly smaller footprint. It's an economical version of the GE 1.5T HD with less expensive parts. However, economy comes with a sacrifice in performance, namely, reduced channel capability and a lower slew rate. If you absolutely need a compact MR imaging solution, this might warrant consideration.
GE 1.5T HD
This is the beginning of true HD imaging for GE. The 1.5T HD represents a step-change from the previous generation and includes a host of upgrades in software and hardware (new HFD gradient cabinet). Upgrading to the HD platform from an older LX system will give you expandability at an affordable price. Remember, you can start with an HD, and then upgrade all the way to an HDXT, and even go further with an upgrade to the 23x “Optima Edition” software/gradients. If you’re just starting in MR imaging and want to minimize upfront costs, this might be the perfect system.
GE 1.5T Excite II
Remember how the Optima 450 (really just an HDXT with 23x software) was transitional to the Optima 450W? Well, here is the same scenario again, but with the Excite II and the LX (although this time there is no design change in the actual magnet). The Excite II features the same ACGD cabinets as the previous LX series, but has a new Linux-based OS which can support 8-channel imaging. Age and availability lower upfront costs, if you don’t absolutely need the latest and greatest.
GE 1.5T LX
Using 9x software and an older Octane computer, this MR is dated, but still seen on the secondary market. An important factor to consider when looking into this system is that it can only support up to 4 channels. Another consideration should be which gradient cabinet is installed, since either the SGD (oldest) or the ACGD (newer) can be installed with an LX. These systems are equipped with HiSpeed or Echospeed gradients.
Hopefully, all this information has helped make you a more informed MRI shopper. Even so, there's still a lot to consider and even more to learn. If you have any questions about any of the GE 1.5T systems we talked about here, contact us- we're happy to help.