How Much Does an MRI Cost? The Facts!

Magnetic resonance imaging, commonly referred to simply as magnetic resonance imaging, is the closest thing to magic.

Using a series of intense magnetic fields, an MRI machine can map the hard and soft tissues of a human body.

It usually does this by causing the water in your organs to emit low-level radio waves, which the machine receives and uses to create a three-dimensional image of an organ or body part being scanned.

MRI machines have become an essential part of modern medicine. Doctors use them to diagnose cancer, nervous system and neurological problems, and joint problems, to name but a few applications.

But they are not cheap. The materials needed to build an MRI machine, not to mention the amount of energy and personnel needed to operate it, become expensive.

That’s how much it costs to do an MRI and why.

How much does an MRI cost?

MRI is one of the most expensive single procedures a hospital can perform.

Even more difficult, the cost of an MRI can vary greatly. According to data collected by NerdWallet, an MRI costs on average $2,600. But this figure can skyrocket depending on the circumstances, the location, the hospital and the particular scan performed by your doctor. Some centers may charge between $400 and $600 for an MRI. Under other circumstances, the price of a single scan may exceed $13,000.

One of the biggest determinants of the cost of an MRI scan is the location where the study is performed. An abdominal scan, for example, can be considerably less expensive than a brain scan or lower back scan.

Why is an MRI so expensive?

A single state-of-the-art MRI machine can cost over $3 million. Even an energy-efficient machine can cost more than a million dollars, and housing these devices costs even more. An MRI machine must operate in a magnetically sterile environment with built-in safety features to ensure that the powerful field generated by the machine does not harm people or nearby properties.

Building a clean room for an MRI machine costs hundreds of thousands of dollars alone.

An MRI machine is also expensive to use. It requires a lot of power to operate and, depending on the scanner, a doctor may order so-called “contrast dye”. This magnetic response fluid helps to make some objects stand out on the final image and can add hundreds of dollars to the bill.

The time of the doctors and technicians involved also costs. A technician has to perform the scan and a radiologist has to supervise and interpret the results. Depending on the hospital’s billing practices, these items can be grouped into a single scan price.

And, in addition to all this, medical billing may vary. It is also possible for a hospital to assess the price of an MRI scan not only on the basis of the cost of the scan itself, but also on the basis of other costs of running the facility. Costs for general nursing staff, hospital administrators, building maintenance and operations are included in every hospital bill.

The price of a scanner varies from one institution to another and is one of the reasons why it is generally cheaper to purchase a scanner from an imaging centre than in a hospital.

Are MRI scans covered by insurance?

In general, yes.

Individual insurance varies widely, but MRI is a well recognized and accepted diagnostic tool. As long as your insurance covers the problem for which you are being treated, MRI is likely to be covered.

However, co-payments and deductibles can make MRI a costly procedure. With highly deductible insurance plans that are common, the expense of an MRI can become a very real problem for individual patients.

Open MRI Machines: Dealing with Claustrophobia and Anxiety

For people who suffer from claustrophobia and anxiety, the idea of a traditional MRI can be a bit unpleasant. Wide hole MRIs can offer a little more space and breathing, but a true open MRI can be a complete diagnostic change. Talk to your doctor to see if a true open-hole MRI is the right solution for your diagnostic needs.

Other types of MRI machines include

Wide hole MRI: Sometimes called an open MRI, a wide hole MRI opens the MRI cylinder another 4 inches (70 cm total), which can accommodate larger or claustrophobic patients. The quality of the image is the same as the standard wormhole MRI, and patients gain a little more breathing space.

3T MRI: A 3T MRI works with twice the strength of a normal MRI, using 3.0 Tesla units (a measure of magnetic strength) instead of the normal 1.5 Tesla MRI. This creates a faster, higher quality image that is useful for diagnosing serious or less obvious conditions.

What is the difference between an open MRI and a closed-hole MRI (traditional)?

Closed-hole MRI:

Traditional (closed hole) MRI uses a cylindrical-shaped device in which the patient is moved to a comfortable bed for the duration of the scan. The technologist will speak to you through a microphone, giving you instructions and updates. Although some people may find these scans confined, they produce the clearest images.

True open MRI

A true open MRI is completely open on all four sides and provides excellent image quality. True open MRI is ideal for patients who struggle with claustrophobia, patients with a high BMI, and young children who need a parent to be present during the exam.

True open MRI can provide patients with

More flow of fresh air

A clear line of sight around the room

Space for additional comfort measures such as pillows and blankets

The possibility of a family member being present during the examination

True open MRIs allow patients who otherwise would have feared or postponed an MRI to get quick, accurate diagnoses and better health outcomes.

“Everyone’s been great. I’m a little claustrophobic when it comes to MRIs; everyone made sure I was comfortable and even let me choose the kind of music I wanted to listen to. The process was quick and easy. I would definitely recommend it! – Medical Imaging patient in Fredericksburg

(Note: Not everyone is a candidate for a True Open MRI, and True Open MRIs are not available at all Fredericksburg medical imaging centers. Talk to your doctor to see if a True Open MRI is right for you.)

Can I have a CT scan instead?

MRI, CT and CAT scans are powerful, non-invasive diagnostic tools. Each scan has fundamental differences and is therefore used in different cases. It is important that you contact your doctor to choose the right option for you.

Positron emission tomography (PET)-This uses radiation and measures the emissions of positron-emitting molecules to create detailed images of the body. PET shows function and molecular activity, not structure, so that you can distinguish between normal and abnormal tissue.

Computed tomography (CT) scan: Uses radiation to create detailed images of the body. Many x-ray images are taken from various angles and then combined on the computer to get a more accurate result, allowing physicians to view from multiple angles to analyze the problem in more detail. It can be used to analyze bone, soft tissue, and blood vessels.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Uses magnets and radio waves to create images of the body’s soft tissues. Because MRI does not use radiation, it is a safe option for radiation-sensitive patients.

What type of image does an MRI produce?

An MRI can create exceptionally detailed images of the body’s soft tissues. They can be viewed from all angles and are shown in cross sections to allow the physician to diag

How To Get A Good MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields and radio waves to obtain images of organs and soft tissue such as muscle and fat. An MRI scanner is very advanced medical equipment that uses magnets, coils and computer images to create the scanned image of the body. The quality of the image depends on the interaction of all these parts.

MRI has less risk of side effects than other imaging tests because it does not use ionizing radiation. The use of MRI in the United States has grown very rapidly since its introduction in 1977. More than 7,000 facilities offer MRI and more than 26 million scans are performed each year.

A doctor may recommend an MRI scan to help diagnose many medical conditions – cancers, joint injuries, heart problems and spinal diseases, to name a few.

A high quality scan is important to make a correct diagnosis. Low quality MRI scans can lead to errors in diagnosis and treatment. Many factors can affect the quality of your MRI scan. This issue of HealthSmart! provides an overview of MRI technology and what you need to get a good scan.

Is MRI always necessary?

MRI is often the best test for many medical problems. It can detect diseases that an X-ray would not show. It is important to ask the doctor who ordered the scan if it is necessary and how the results will be useful for treatment. Work with your doctor to decide where the MRI will be taken.

Types of MRI scans

Traditional – Original MRI scanners are like passages with a closed end

Open Drill – Developed to help claustrophobic, elderly, obese and pediatric patients, this scanner offers greater patient comfort because it scans more openly. This scanner can leave the patient standing while scanning. Some types of examinations cannot be performed with an open MRI scan. Even with an open clamp unit, the patient’s face may be near the clamp ceiling.

Wide gauge magnets: A wide gauge scanner has a shorter passageway and is open at both ends. Scans can be performed with the patient’s head out of the opening if the brain is not scanned.

This scanner was developed for claustrophobic and obese patients and can perform all types of scans. It works with all types of patients, including children, and offers more space between the patient and the ceiling of the opening.

Factors for a high-quality MRI scan

Using a strong magnetic field and radio waves, MRI scans avoid the use of ionizing radiation such as that found in X-rays or CT scans.

If you and your doctor decide that an MRI scan is necessary, it is best to obtain images of the highest possible quality the first time for proper diagnosis and treatment. This is very important if you will make a decision about surgery based on the results. In addition, many insurance plans only pay for one scan.

In addition to the types of MRI scanners used, several factors contribute to the quality of the images.

Why does the MRI scanner make so much noise?

The typing and beating noises that you hear during an MRI scan are caused by the magnetic coils that turn on and off during the scan. These coils measure the signal coming from your body and use this information to create images. Since these noises are usually very loud, you will be given some kind of hearing protection.

During the MRI scan, you can choose between headphones with music or earplugs, depending on the type of scan being performed.

Scanner technology

The latest MRI technology can be found in academic medical centres in large cities. Smaller communities may have fewer options. It is important to understand the types of scans offered by the chosen center.

The magnetic field or magnetic field strength helps determine the clarity of the images. Magnetic force is measured in units called Tesla (T), and scanners can have a force ranging from 0.5 T to 3.0 T. For some medical problems, a higher Tesla is required to produce high resolution images.

Higher resolution can produce better quality images. This helps the doctor reading the images to make better interpretations and diagnoses. Therefore, although an open MRI may be more comfortable for the patient, the resolution of the

How much does an MRI machine cost? The Facts!

And what is the price difference for a new and used MRI scanner? This will be answered during this blog. MRI systems are in a wide range of prices between 30,000 and 500,000 euros.

If you are still having trouble picking the right MRI machine and equipment for your client just head over Imaging Diversified for help picking the right MRI machine.

However, you should examine your needs before making a decision. Some of the cheaper ones are only suitable for limb exams and the more expensive MRIs are suitable for cutting-edge exams that may not be necessary.

One of the cheapest MRI systems is Esaote C-Scan, a final scanner and an excellent option for orthopedists. Since this system does not require more shielding, it can be installed in a small clinic.

At the other end of the scale, there are systems with higher Tesla measurements, systems with zero boiling magnets and high slopes.

In addition, the prices of MRI machines are influenced by many other factors: year of manufacture (YOM), field strength, gradient intensity, response speed and channels.

The higher the number of these, the higher the price. We will elaborate on this later. For a quick overview of the prices of the systems used, see the price table below.

Prices of new and refurbished MRI scanners

In the table above, you can see the prices of magnetic resonance systems based on their force field (Teslas – T) and the year of manufacture, which are two of the most important price indicators.

However, these prices are for used systems. So what are the prices of new or restored MRI compared to this?

The general rule is:

The prices of used systems are generally 50-80% lower than the prices of new machines. And the prices of refurbished OEM systems are generally 30-40% lower than the prices of new systems.

Therefore, if you decide to buy a used or refurbished system instead of a new one, you can get a more advanced and powerful MRI model or the same model at a cheaper price.

Furthermore, the development of MRI scanners is rather slow. This is an advantage when buying used, as it will save money, without compromising the quality and speed of the image.

Prices of low field magnetic resonance imaging machines: 0.2 T – 0.4 T

Low-field MRI scanners include 0.2 T, 0.3 T and 0.4 T magnetic resonance imaging. They are usually open MRI.

Therefore, the image quality is relatively low and requires longer scan times.

However, they are a good alternative for claustrophobic or restless patients. In addition, they are much cheaper.

0.2T MRIs are the cheapest in the market. There are two price categories: systems that only cost 30,000 – 80,000 euros for the extremes, for example, Esaote E (photo) and C-scan 0.2T.

And integral magnetic resonance in the price range of 80,000 – 120,000 euros. An example is the Siemens Magnetom concert.

However, there are exceptions. Although Esaote G-Scan is used for the purposes, its price ranges between 80,000 and 120,000 euros.

This system stands out with a moving magnet that allows you to scan patients while standing. This releases pressure on the spine of their patients, which results in clearer images. The magnetic resonances used from 0.3 T to 0.4 T cost almost double compared to 0.2 T systems.

The current price range is between 200 and 300,000 euros. These MRIs are used for full body exams. Models in this category include the Siemens Magnetom C 0.35T (image) and the Hitachi Open 0.4T.

Prices of 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging machines

High field MRI systems are commonly classified as closed MRI scanners. These systems are very powerful.

Prices of 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging machines High field MRI systems are commonly classified as closed MRI scanners. These systems are very powerful.

A stronger Tesla force also means a stronger magnetic field and, therefore, clearer images of the deep tissues.

Your disadvantages?

Since these MRIs are closed, some patients may feel claustrophobic. In addition, the purchase prices of the latest models can be high, as well as their maintenance costs, since they are cooled by helium.

Since these MRIs are closed, some patients may feel claustrophobic. In addition, the purchase prices of the latest models can be high, as well as their maintenance costs, since they are cooled by helium.

Today, the standard for magnetic resonance imaging in a clinical setting is 1.5T magnetic resonance imaging. They are faster than low resistance magnetic resonance imaging and are ideal for abdominal and thoracic magnetic resonance imaging.

Your price range? These are a little more complicated since YOM plays a bigger role here. Magnetic resonances of 1.5 T with a year of production 2000-2006 cost around 150,000 euros.

For example, Siemens Symphony and Philips integer. However, the prices of the systems produced between 2008 and 2012 vary between 250,000 and 350,000 euros.

Examples of the 1.5T magnetic resonance produced after 2008 are the Siemens Magnetom Avanto and the Toshiba Vantage Titan.

Prices of 3T magnetic resonance imaging machines

These machines generate a magnetic field that is twice the power of 1.5 T magnetic resonance machines and 10-15 times the strength of the open field and low field magnetic resonance scanners.

One of the main advantages of the 3T magnetic resonance imaging machine is its ability to reduce image noise. In this way, 3T magnetic resonances are perfect for seeing very fine details, such as cerebral and cardiac vessels.

Again, the price of the systems used depends on the year of manufacture. 3T magnetic resonances produced before 2006 cost around € 200,000.

Examples are Philips Achieva and whole Philips. However, if you are looking for newer machines than in 2008, you will have to pay twice as much, since they usually cost between 400,000 and 500,000 euros. In this category you will find Philips Ingenia, Siemens Prisma and Siemens Verio.

Additional factors that affect the cost of an MRI machine

As mentioned at the beginning, YOM and Teslas are not the only factors that influence the prices of magnetic resonance systems.

More are detailed below:

Gradient of strength and response speed

Together, the strength of the gradient and the speed of response are the motors that bring your MRI machine to maximum performance.

The gradient force is measured in millitelas per meter (mT / m) while the response speed is measured in a similar way, but in milliseconds (mT / m / ms) and the stronger they are, the better the sharpness of the image.

However, it is important to consider the type of studies and exams you will perform. For example, neurocardiac applications require higher gradation than orthopedic or general applications.

Therefore, magnetic resonances with higher gradient and higher response rates are more expensive, since the price reflects the ability of the magnetic resonance system.

If you need help planning the details of your center you should talk to a great MRI consultant.

Coil type

Another determining factor in the price is the type of MRI coil. The more channels the coil has, the more expensive it becomes.

The most expensive coils belong to the 16 to 32 channel category, while the 4 to 8 channel coils are less expensive.

So, the more channels the coil has, the more it will pay for the MRI system.  

Large hole magnetic resonance image We have already mentioned the open and closed-hole MRI, but what if you are looking for an MRI with a large hole?

Wide hole MRI is more comfortable for patients since the diameter of its opening is 70 cm instead of 60 cm. This gives patients the feeling that the MRI is very wide.

The demand for large-diameter magnetic resonance imaging is increasing, therefore, prices have increased.

Permanent magnet or helium cooled magnet

And how does the type of magnet influence the price of an MRI machine?

Magnetic resonances up to 0.4 T have permanent magnets, there are only a few 0.4 T magnetic resonances on the market with helium-cooled magnets and these are also more expensive than MRIs with permanent magnets.

When buying a helium-cooled MRI, remember that it is more expensive to buy and maintain because it has higher operating costs.

For example, you should buy additional helium regularly to keep it running.

Additional costs associated with an MRI purchase

Really more?

Yes, but almost there. Keep in mind that additional costs can only come from the price of the MRI scanner.

For example: installation and warranty.

Please note that most medical imaging retailers do not offer a warranty if you install it yourself.

What else?

Staff training: if you have never worked with a similar system before. Magnetic resonance imaging systems must be managed by professionals and, therefore, it is very important to provide their professionals with the proper education.

And if you decide to buy an MRI cooled with helium, you should, as mentioned, have additional costs for helium, because it is expensive.

In addition, over time it may have spare parts. If you want to make sure you get high quality parts at a fair price, contact our parts department.

How to determine which system you should obtain? Finance often sets the limit on the MRI system that you can buy, but the first thing you should do is identify your needs.

The following questions may be useful in this regard: What kind of exams are you going to take?

Do you have competitors nearby?

What service is needed for the system?

What services do you have?

How many patients do you expect?

What is the average cost of an exam?

When you have answered these questions, it is easier to find the right system for you. Let us know if you need more help.

Conclusion: how much does an MRI machine cost?

As you can see, there are many MRI systems available in the market for used medical equipment and their prices vary.

Some of them have expensive features that you may not even need. When you buy an MRI, be clear about your needs: not everyone needs a 3T magnet, not everyone needs 16 or 32 channel coils. Also, remember that it not only costs you the system, but also the maintenance it entails.

Hopefully this blog post has answered the question: how much does an MRI machine cost? – In case of doubt, do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Want to know more about magnetic resonance imaging? Read our blog post: the characteristics and benefits of magnetic resonance systems.