Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant
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 | May 17, 2012

The Fight of the Century

The Fight of the Century

Images at 3T show crystal clarity, but its economics that will make what was once ultra high field into the clinical benchmark of MRI. Image provided by Siemens

It was set a decade ago, a battle between the upstart and the champ. It wasn’t the first time. The standard bearer for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) had stood its ground many times before, facing down ultra-low, low and mid-field cylindricals. Even a 2T took a shot.  Low- and mid-field opens and ones with “high-field” tendencies had theirs, as well. But tried and proven 1.5Ts always came through.

This time it’s different. Three-Tesla entered the ring well-groomed for the fight. It had carved a niche as an ultra-high system, a pathfinder in research for applications that could be ported to 1.5T. Then vendors realized that 3T was ready for the main event.

That was 10 years ago amid hoopla as yet largely unrealized. Aside from better, crisper-looking images, the clinical use of 3T has yielded no clear-cut evidence of a clinical advantage over 1.5T. Having fallen short after so many years of opportunity and unbridled faith by early adopters, the argument that 3T must be the choice of anyone seeking assurance against future obsolescence has begun to wear thin.

It would seem, then, that predictions of its inevitable win over 1.5T and ascension to becoming the clinical benchmark in MRI might have been in error, if not for one thing. Money. The price of 3T systems is falling. The release later this year of Siemens' Magnetom Spectra is an example of that, bearing a price tag about the same as 1.5Ts were just a few years ago (http://www.itnonline.com/content/3t-reaches-high-field-price-point). If comparisons are made using inflation-adjusted dollars, all of today’s 3Ts, in fact, are well below the price 1.5Ts commanded in the early 2000s, when 1.5T scanners equipped with all the bells and whistles bore street prices close to $2 million.

So while 3T may not as yet have proven its heftier field strength to be a clinical advantage over the long-time king of MRI, its images are clearer and its price well within the reach of what buyers are used to paying.

There will be a place for 1.5T in the grand scheme of MRI for many years to come. But economics have turned in favor of the upstart 3T as the new premium clinical performer. And just as this field strength, when it was on the leading edge of imaging science, plowed the ground for new clinical applications ultimately put in place at 1.5T, a small but powerful contingent of 7T scanners is scouting the future for 3T.

Advanced applications will come from this work. And, when they do, there will be a lot of 3T scanners in the installed base, ready to use them.

Related Content

Canon Medical Receives FDA Clearance for Vantage Orian 1.5T MRI
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | November 15, 2018
Canon Medical Systems USA Inc. received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its new...
Researchers Awarded 2018 Canon Medical Systems USA/RSNA Research Grants
News | Radiology Imaging | November 13, 2018
The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Research & Education (R&E) Foundation recently announced the...
Subtle Medical Showcases Artificial Intelligence for PET, MRI Scans at RSNA 2018
News | Artificial Intelligence | November 13, 2018
At the 2018 Radiological Society of North America annual meeting (RSNA 2018), Nov. 25-30 in Chicago, Subtle Medical...
Charles Ananian, M.D.

Charles Ananian, M.D.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Digital Radiography (DR) | November 07, 2018
Whether it’s a premature baby or a critically ill child, treating little patients is a huge responsibility.
This is the Siemens Magnetom Sola RT edition 1.5T MRI system optimized for radiation therapy displayed for the first time since gaining FDA clearance in 2018. It was displayed at the American Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ASTRO) 2018 annual meeting. Read more about this system at ASTRO 2018. #ASTRO18 #ASTRO2018
360 Photos | 360 View Photos | November 07, 2018
This is the Siemens Magnetom Sola RT edition 1.5T MRI system optimized for...
Results of the vertebrae-based analysis (383 vertebrae in 34 patients) for detection of BME.

Results of the vertebrae-based analysis (383 vertebrae in 34 patients) for detection of BME.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Computed Tomography (CT) | November 06, 2018
The following is a summary of a study published in the
Fans of Opposing Soccer Teams Perceive Games Differently

Image courtesy of University of York

News | Neuro Imaging | October 25, 2018
Scientists have scanned the brains of die-hard soccer fans to find out why supporters of rival teams often have very...
IMRIS, Siemens Strengthen Collaboration in Hybrid OR Neurosurgical Market
News | Hybrid OR | October 24, 2018
IMRIS, Deerfield Imaging, in partnership with Siemens Healthineers, announced a strengthened collaboration to advance...
Carotid Artery MRI Improves Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | October 23, 2018
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements of wall thickness in the carotid arteries improve cardiovascular disease...
The Elekta Unity with 1.5T MRI embedded as a targeting system appeared at the annual meeting of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Antonio, Texas. The system is being sold in Europe and could soon enter the U.S. marketplace. (Photo courtesy of Elekta)

The Elekta Unity with 1.5T MRI embedded as a targeting system appeared at the annual meeting of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Antonio, Texas. The system is being sold in Europe and could soon enter the U.S. marketplace. (Photo courtesy of Elekta)

Feature | ASTRO | October 20, 2018 | By Greg Freiherr
A linear accelerator combined with high-field MRI could soon be on the U.S. market. If U.S.