Out with the old, in with the new for MRI purchases

In 2013, the average age of installed MRI scanners in the U.S. increased to 11.4 years, meaning many scanners are due for replacement, according to a report from market research and consulting firm IMV Medical Information Division.

“The research finds that the market is ready for replacement of the older units that are at the end of their useful lives,” Lorna Young, senior director of market research at IMV, said in a press release, adding that the last spike of new MRI installations ended in 2004.

“Providers are also planning to take advantage of the wider bore sizes and higher magnet field strengths that are now available," she said.

Findings were based on survey responses from 450 MRI administrators nationwide.

Results also indicated that 20 percent of all MRI users plan on purchasing a new system within three years, with an additional 24 percent responding that “maybe” they will purchase a new unit.

Hospitals with 200 beds or larger and their associated imaging centers will be the main purchasers of MRI systems, while smaller, independent imaging centers are still reeling from the economic slowdown, according to IMV. Independent imaging centers comprise 36 percent of all MRI sites, but only 20 percent of the sites planning on new MRI system purchases.

With regard to the type of scanners garnering the most interest from purchasers, IMV noted that speed, broad clinical applications and improved patient comfort are some of the main purchasing criteria. Three out of every four new MRI purchases have wide-bore widths of 70 cm or more. Common 1.5 tesla units made up more than 70 percent of all recent MRI purchases, though 3.0 tesla units are gaining traction and comprised more than 25 percent of planned purchases.