Recently patients that we have been seeing have asked questions about the difference between imaging resolution and how a 1.5T MRI is different than a 3.0T MRI.
It seems like nowadays everyone is encouraging patients to “shop around” for their healthcare. But that can be confusing when you don’t know exactly what to look for with an MRI! What machine is best? What questions should I ask? What does a 1.5T even mean?
Here are some educational tips on MRI machines from Affinity Imaging in Hackensack NJ, the experts in MRI’s in Northern NJ.
A quick overview of how an MRI works.
MRI is short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. To simplify a very complex machine, an MRI scanner is a very large, strong magnet. A patient lies in the magnet and a radio wave is used to send signals to the body and receive them back. The returning signals are converted into images by a computer attached to the scanner. MRI scanners come in different magnet field strengths measured in teslas or “T”, usually between 0.5T and 3.0T. They also come in varying sizes including, open and wide-bore.
3T MRI: the newest and most powerful.
The image quality of an MRI depends on signal and field strength. So a 3T machine has much more signal than a 1.5T machine. 3T images can provide extremely clear and vivid images and can often be done faster, decreasing overall scan time. Both are of great value to the patient in terms of diagnosis and comfort. 3T is ideal for imaging small bones, breast MRI, musculoskeletal MRI, neurological MRI and vascular MRI, where the minute details are especially crucial to diagnosis. With that said, a 3T machine isn’t always the best for every kind of imaging. 3T has a higher likely hood of artifacts (any object that appears in the image that is not in the original object); specifically “flow” artifacts due to blood or fluid.
A true open MRI vs. wide-bore MRI.
A true open MRI means that the machine is open on all four sides. The machine looks almost like a pancake, with the top of the machine close to the face/head of the patient. True open MRIs started at a very low strength of .2T, progressed to .3T, to .7T and now to 1.2T. A 1.2T machine is capable of producing diagnostic images, but the laws of physics state that it will inherently have less signal than a 1.5T magnet and therefore the image quality is much lower. Today, a 1.5T MRI is considered the standard for state-of-the-art imaging. The open options for a 1.5T are in wide-bore format. The size of the ‘hole’ (or bore) where the patient lies is 70 cm, providing more headroom than a true open MRI and is actually much more spacious – it is just not open on the sides. Affinity Radiology in Hackesack has an open MRI to assist our patients who have severe claustrophobia or issues being inside our enclosed 3.0T machine.
Affinity Radiology located at 155 State Street In Hackensack NJ has all you imaging needs under one roof in our clean and comfortable 5000 square foot facility. Located just blocks from the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, NJ we are located conveniently close to major highways like the Garden State Parkway, Route 4, Route 17 and the New Jersey Turnpike. Located just 15 minutes away from the George Washington Bridge we are open from 7AM to 9PM most days with late hours available for our busy patients. Call us at 201-968-5544 to make an appointment or if you have any questions.