Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | March 23, 2012

3T Reaches High-Field Price-Point

It’s been nearly a decade since vendors first floated the idea of 3T as the new clinical benchmark in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Finally, it looks like their prediction is about to come true, but it wasn’t clinical advances that paved the way. Those were achieved years ago. It was an economic breakthrough in the form of a brand new MR scanner priced at about what 1.5T systems were a few years ago, namely, Siemens’ Magnetom Spectra, which was launched a few weeks ago at the European Congress of Radiology.

Usually vendors launch new imaging products, especially MR scanners, months earlier and on the other side of the Atlantic at the RSNA meeting, a fact that Christiane Bernhardt, director of Outbound Marketing for Siemens MR, acknowledged. More important than the venue is the product, which is scheduled to begin shipping in the second half of this year for a price “half of what 3T systems cost five years ago,” Bernhardt told me.

My memory recalls a price-point back then of about $3 million, which Bernhardt said was a little bit high. So, by the powers of interpolation, this new system will go for under $1.5 million. It’s probably not a coincidence that 1.5T scanners were commanding this price when they were at the top of the MR food chain. And purchase price is only part of the story.

Bernhardt and Spectra product manager Richard Winkelmann, Ph.D., talked repeatedly about the low TCO (total cost of ownership) that accompanies this product. Underpinning the savings is an undersized bore with a 60 cm diameter, versus the 70 cm that has come to characterize MR scanners of late. Those extra 10 cm mean less expensive gradient coils for one thing, and a more compact design for another, which translate into a lower cost to manufacture and less space required for installation. TCO is further minimized by the zero helium boil-off, which puts a cap on energy costs, Bernhardt noted.

None of these cost-cutting measures degrade the clinical capability of the system, she said. Spectra is built on the same technology platform as Siemens' Skyra 3T and Aera 1.5T systems, which were introduced a little over a year ago at RSNA 2010. Therefore, Spectra supports all the same applications, according to Bernhardt. It is also equipped with Tim 4G, the company’s fourth-generation total imaging matrix, and the company’s Dot (day optimizing throughput) technologies.

“The key points are quality and usability,” she said, giving a nod to the affordability of the system.

“Really it’s this combination that makes the system unique,” Winkelmann added.

And while the name implies that the Magnetom Spectra is capable of MR spectroscopy – and it is, they assured me – this particular application is not why the name was chosen. Pressed for the underlying rationale, Bernhardt said, “because it’s ‘spectracular.’"

Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor?

Related Content

MRI-guided focused ultrasound, ExAblate Neuro, essential tremor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, UM SOM study
News | Focused Ultrasound Therapy | August 26, 2016
Treatment with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided focused ultrasound significantly improves tremors and quality of...
brain activity, obese women, food cues, UT Southwestern study
News | Neuro Imaging | August 26, 2016
The brain’s reward centers in severely obese women continue to respond to food cues even after they’ve eaten and are no...
Zika virus, imaging zika, CT scans of Zika, MRI scans of zika, radiology of Zika, medical imaging of zika

A prenatal computed tomography (CT) 3-D reconstruction of fetus with Zika virus. To access all Zika radiology images related to the RSNA article go to http://pubs.rsna.org/doi/full/10.1148/radiol.2016161584

Feature | Neuro Imaging | August 26, 2016
The Radiological Society of North American (RSNA) journal Radiology has published a special report, detailing the...
Alzheimer's, phase 3 study, MRI, LMTM, AAIC 2016
News | Neuro Imaging | August 24, 2016
Important clinical trial results in Alzheimer's disease and dementia were recently reported at the 2016 Alzheimer's...
MRI, prostate cancer, zinc, UT Southwestern Medical Center study
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 23, 2016
A novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method that detects low levels of zinc ion can help distinguish healthy...
Philips, Ingenia MRI, VA Medical Center, Pineville Louisiana
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 23, 2016
Alexandria VA Medical Center (VAMC) and Philips announced that the VAMC’s Pineville, La., facility will be the first VA...
Agfa Healthcare, DIN-PACS IV agreement, U.S. government contract, diagnostic imaging, IT solutions
News | Business | August 23, 2016
Agfa HealthCare announced that the U.S. government has awarded the company its DIN-PACS IV (Digital Imaging Network/...
NASH, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, MRI, MRI-PDFF, University of California San Diego study
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 22, 2016
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found that a form of magnetic resonance...

Image courtesy of NYU Langone Medical Center

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 18, 2016
August 18, 2016 — A new technology harnesses imperfections that typically compromise...
Parkinson's disease, altered brain activity, NIH-funded study, Radiology journal, fMRI

A new study has found that neural activity in certain brain areas declines over time in individuals with Parkinson’s disease and two related syndromes. Image courtesy of David Vaillancourt, Ph.D., University of Florida

News | Neuro Imaging | August 18, 2016
Neuroscientists peered into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease and two similar conditions to see how their...
Overlay Init