Since first publishing this article in 2015, hundreds more people have come to us with a wide variety of MRI needs and, depending on what those needs were, we've had occasion to direct them to many different models from many different manufacturers. Why? Not all MRI scanners are equal across all of the aspects that users value.
To help you begin building an idea of what to expect, we'll share some of the big considerations we've seen buyers grapple with. Individual cases may vary but, in our experience and the experiences our partners have shared with us, the following are a snapshot of what each of these "major player" MRI manufacturers looks like on the third-party market.
GE MRI Machines
With GE MRI systems, your up-front costs (the purchase of the equipment) will be higher than with other manufacturers, but your ongoing service costs will be significantly lower. Parts availability is very high for GE scanners and many engineers are trained to work on them. GE also makes their systems very upgradeable and taking a scanner to the next level frequently costs less, compared to upgrading models from other makers.
At present, there are no wide-bore options available on the secondary market, but we suspect this will change with time. The higher up-front cost of a GE scanner sometimes steers those with tighter budget constraints to consider one of the other manufacturers we'll discuss below.
Philips MRI Machines
Purchasing a Philips MRI scanner on the secondary market generally offers lower upfront costs, but higher ongoing service costs. Philips magnets typically have very powerful gradients and usually offer some of the best images available for their price bracket. Be aware though, that most Philips magnet designs do consume cryogen. If you choose a Philips system, we recommend also purchasing a service contract that includes cryogen coverage for liquid helium loss.
Siemens MRI Machines
Upfront cost for a Siemens MRI scanner will be comparable to Philips. The ongoing service costs will be more in line with those of a GE scanner. These factors make Siemens scanners a strong value proposition.
In terms of features, Siemens scanners have some offerings that other makes do not. Siemens stands alongside Toshiba as the only manufacturers that currently have wide-bore models available on the secondary market. Siemens also offers TIM (Total Imaging Matrix) which allows for whole-body imaging without patient repositioning. Unlike Philips, Siemens has ”zero boil-off” magnet designs which are incredibly efficient and burn very little cryogen.
Toshiba MRI Machines
Last, but certainly not least, are Toshiba magnets. Service costs will be higher, but many times the up-front cost of the equipment is low enough that the net impact is similar to makes we mentioned earlier.
In terms of features not seen in other MRI product lines: All of their models are “wide-bore” (65cm or 71cm) and have excellent gradients for superior images. Toshiba also has Pianissimo technology in their magnets which allows for near-silent scanning for some sequences.
Whether your facility's concerns are related to budget, ongoing maintenance, or technology that enhances the services you provide your patients, the third-party market can offer equipment that fits those needs through the diversity of makes and models now available.
If you're ready to find the best MR fit for your facility, we can help you with more information for every step in the process. Check out our free MRI Project Checklist to get a better idea of how you can get your next magnet up and running simpler and faster.