Jeff Hough


Competition between the major suppliers of MRI machines is heating up with the big three: General Electric, Siemens, and Philips as these suppliers are offering new platforms, technologies, and innovative software to push the modality forward. This article compares the main technologies and features coming to market in 2019 and 2020 from the top MRI manufacturers.


In 2018 and 2019, the biggest change in the MRI platform came from Philips with the release of the BlueSeal magnet. Operating with only seven liters of liquid helium through a sealed micro-cooling system, the scanner is virtually helium-free. Comparatively, a traditional magnet requires over 1500 liters of liquid helium.

The new design comes with three distinct advantages:

  • Helium refills are not required for the life of the magnet. Newer magnets are essentially zero-boil off under normal use, however helium loss is still a risk in the event of a cold head or chiller failure. In either event, helium will need to be added to continue operating at peak performance.
  • There is a reduction in system weight. Without the liquid helium, a Philips BlueSeal magnet is 900kg (1984lbs) lighter than its predecessor. This MRI machine can now be placed in locations previously unsupported, such as a higher floor or a room without access to a vent pipe.
  • The magnet has the ability to be ramped up and down by hospital personnel. In the event that a metal object gets lodged in the bore or one of the two compressors fails, the magnet can be toggled off digitally. Philips claims this can help minimize operational downtime and cost avoidance.

While Philips is the first MRI manufacturer to bring a helium-free magnet to market, General Electric announced their "Freelium” MRI at the 2016 RSNA conference.


System preference often comes down to the software suite. Radiologists, techs, and medical specialists will have their distinct preference of manufacturer based on user interface, workflow, and included tools. Training and familiarity play an equal role in the purchase decision, as moving to a new vendor’s software will require both time and investment to get all users to a proficient level with the equipment.

Current generations of imaging software may have a big impact on imaging department operations, patient throughput, and available services at an organization. Here is a recap of the programs offered natively or as an option with current MRI machines:

  • BodyWorks
  • CVWorks
  • NeuroWorks
  • OncoWorks
  • OrthoWorks
  • PaedWorks
  • Abdomen
  • Angio
  • Breast
  • Brain
  • Cardiac
  • Knee
  • Large Joint
  • RT
  • Spine
  • ScanTools Pro
  • dS Body Suite
  • dS Breast Suite
  • dS Cardiac Suite (Premium / Pro)
  • dS Liver Suite
  • dS MSK Suite
  • dS Neuro Suite (Plus / Premium / Pro)
  • dS Performance Suite (Plus / Premium / Pro)
  • dS Vascular Suite

For general imaging, most MRI machines are in feature parity; the image produced by any one of the three manufacturers’ scanners can be used for diagnostic purposes. Length of procedure, patient comfort, and the actual scan can still differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and system to system. Here are a few of the key technologies that distinguish each MRI manufacturer:


Announced in 2017, Siemens' BioMatrix technology is a combination of sensors and software that monitor heart-rate, breathing, and movement from a patient. The Siemens MRI machine then adjusts the scan based on the physical attributes of the patient. This improves the quality of the image, reduces the need for re-scans, and makes the procedure more comfortable for the patient.


GE’s AIR Technology™ Coils are flexible, blanket-like coils that contour to the patient, are more comfortable, and get closer to the target area. This technology is promising as the coil fits a wider range of body types and is used for multiple applications.

GE's MRI machines also feature HyperBand, HyperSense, and HyperCube acceleration to shorten scan times. HyperBand works by exciting multiple slices at the same time. HyperSense leverages compressed sensing to maintain resolution while reducing scan time. Finally, HyperCube is used to reduce scan times for higher spatial resolution procedures.


Compressed SENSE is an acceleration technique for the entire exam; however, many acceleration applications are specific to an imaging sequence. Philips Compressed SENSE modifies how the scanner processes the signal and what information that signal must contain. The result of this signal processing technique is a 20-40% shorter exam time without loss of detail in the final image. Facilities that are utilization constrained can leverage this technology to shorten their MRI machine slots and scan more patients in a given day, week, month, or year.


The feature list and MRI machines provided by GE, Siemens, and Philips are extensive, so finding the right unit for your practice should not come down to a single factor. This article is intended to highlight the core technologies and unique features coming to market in 2019 and 2020 from the top MRI manufacturers. Regardless of your selection, the experts at Meridian Leasing are here to help with creative and industry leading financial options allowing you to get one of these new MRI machines and pushing your imaging department forward. For more information contact our medical equipment specialists by phone at +1 (855) 980-4578 or send an email to [email protected] for more details or to speak with a medical equipment specialist.