Mike Myers


GE and Siemens are leading manufacturers of MRI machines. Their systems have a long-standing reputation of quality and cutting-edge technology. When comparing models, an initial decision you will need to make is whether you want a wide-bore or a closed-bore system. The main differences are the size of the patient opening and the price of the machine. A wide-bore system is 70cm in diameter compared to a closed-bore system with an opening of 60cm.


A wide-bore system is preferred if you are scanning patients who are claustrophobic, obese, or have a disability that impairs movement; the 70cm diameter increases accessibility and comfort for patients.

The Siemens MAGNETOM Espree was the first wide-bore MRI machine on the market, released in 2004. The Siemens Espree features advanced software that increases patient throughput and thus provides relief to patients as they are on and off the table as quickly as possible. This increased patient throughput further allows healthcare facilities to schedule more scans. Some facilities market the Espree scanner as an "open” MR scanner because the depth of the scanner is 125cm, which is especially beneficial when imaging patients that are claustrophobic. In 2010 GE released the Optima 450W MRI, a competing model to the Espree. Both models feature integrated coil technology that permits multiple coils to be connected together, allowing technicians to perform entire body scans without repositioning the patient or adjusting coils. Siemens calls this technology the Total Imaging Matrix (TIM), a standard feature for the system. GE calls its technology GEMS and it is not the standard option for the system. Both versions allow for increased efficiency and workflow.

You will find more used and refurbished Siemens Espree MRI machines than the GE Optima 450W because of the Espree’s earlier release date. The price of a refurbished Siemens Espree is around $575,000 where the price of a refurbished GE Optima 450W is around $750,000. The price difference can be attributed to the fact that the GE Optima 450W showed up later to the market and features a newer magnet design. Care should be taken to not purchase too many coils or software applications that are not routinely used. Discuss with your radiologists to match the system purchase with the exams that will be most often performed at your facility.


A closed-bore MRI machine has a bore diameter of 60cm. The closed-bore systems that are equivalent to the already mentioned wide-bore systems above are the Siemens Avanto, GE Optima 450 MRI, and GE Excite 23X MRI.

The Siemens Avanto contains much of the same technology and features as the Espree, but has a smaller 60cm bore. The Avanto also features the Total Imaging Matrix (TIM) allowing hospitals, health systems, and imaging centers to maximize patient comfort, improve patient throughput, and increase efficiency of their scans. The price for a used Siemens Avanto is about $325,000.

GE’s equivalent in this category is the GE Optima 450. The GE Optima 450 is essentially the GE EXCITE 1.5 HDXT upgraded to a 23x software level, and is actually quite different from the GE Optima 450W. While the GE Optima 450W can be upgraded to host the GEMS integrated coil technology, the GE Optima 450 cannot. Another main difference of this model is that the system uses the traditional CX-K4 LCC magnet of the EXCITE series, where the 450W has a newer magnet type.

Conventional Closed-Bore

GE’s EXCITE HDX and the HDXT are reliable models that use the CXK4 magnet and were first introduced in 1999. The EXCITE series is upgradable to 24X software, however, 14X is standard for the HDX MRI while the HDXT MRI features either 15x or 16x software. The main differences between these systems are the software levels, hence there is not a major difference in price. These systems will be around $300,000-$450,000, depending on the software level and channel coils you require. The Siemens comparable model is the Siemens Symphony with TIMS and the price for this system is around $200,000-$250,000.


Both Siemens and GE offer a wide array of software applications that mainly come in packages based on the types of imaging that you will be performing. Typical packages include neurovascular, body, breast, and cardiac. Some of the packages are quite expensive; in-depth conversations with your radiologists and your business development teams are helpful to get applications that will actually be used enough to warrant their price.

Ease of Use vs. Customization

Many MRI technologists will voice their opinion on which MRI they find better. Typically, GE scanners have software that is based on the body type of application and are easier to operate. Siemens systems tend to be more customizable for specialty exams based on the basic software that is purchased with the unit.


In 2016, GE HDXT systems could be upgraded in the field, which is called an explorer upgrade. All of the analog components are removed and replaced with digital components, typically providing faster scan times with improved resolution. The upgrades, without additional software, are about $500,000. The main advantage of these upgrades is that there is minimal construction involved, as the MRI vessel remains in the room. Only the penetration panel is replaced during the upgrade.

Infrastructure Considerations
  • If your system is located at a hospital-based practice and you hold a JCAHO accreditation, it may be time to include mandating zoning into your construction plans.
  • If you are upgrading an existing system, include a shielding survey prior to getting construction quotes. Many older shielded rooms need to have the steel revised or doors replaced to optimize the imaging environment.

If you’re looking for an MRI machine, the industry experts at Meridian Leasing will work with you to help you determine the right equipment for your clinical and financial needs. Call +1 (855) 980-4578 or send an email to [email protected] for more details or to speak with a medical equipment specialist.