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

neuo imaging, MRI

Brain scans early in stress show hippocampal volume shrinkage, a physical change in the brain which can predict eventual memory loss. Image courtesy of NCBS.

News | Neuro Imaging | July 29, 2016
Work pressures, money issues, exams, perhaps an illness in the family — these are common strains in every person's life...
LiverMultiScan, liver disease diagnosis, children, pediatric patients, U.K., Poland, Kids4LIFe consortium
News | Oncology Diagnostics | July 27, 2016
A U.K-Poland consortium was recently awarded a €1.1M grant to develop a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based medical...
News | Oncology Diagnostics | July 27, 2016
July 27, 2016 — Cubresa Inc. announced the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a U.S.
CMS, Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating, national distribution, quailty of care
News | Business | July 26, 2016
July 25, 2016 — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it expects to launch its new Over
Raymond Wtulich

Raymond Wtulich

News | Business | July 26, 2016
The Imaging Technology News team is saddened to hear of the passing of Raymond Wtulich, manager/marketing...
MRI, superconducting coil, University of Houston, Jarek Wosik
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 25, 2016
A multidisciplinary research team has developed a high-temperature superconducting coil that allows magnetic resonance...
Varian, Varex Imaging Corp., components, new name, spinoff
News | Imaging | July 25, 2016
July 25, 2016 — Varian Medical Systems announced last week that Varex Imaging Corp.
radiologists, radiation-related mortality risk, study, Amy Berrington de Gonzalez
News | Radiation Dose Management | July 22, 2016
Radiologists who graduated from medical school after 1940 do not face an increased risk of dying from radiation-related...
fMRI, brain circuits, stress response, Yale study, PNAS
News | Neuro Imaging | July 22, 2016
July 22, 2016 — Research supported by the National Institutes of Health has...
MRI, arterial spin labeling, ASL, Alzheimer's disease, Alle Meije Wink
News | Neuro Imaging | July 20, 2016
Researchers in the Netherlands have coupled machine learning methods with a special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)...
Overlay Init