Jeff Hough


When it comes to purchasing diagnostic imaging equipment for your hospital or healthcare facility, MRI machines are one the most expensive modalities, and the machine itself only accounts for a portion of the total cost. Other expenses include room construction, shielding, cryogens, annual maintenance, and staff wages. For some facilities, the space requirements or economics of building a new MRI suite simply don’t support an in-house system. In these cases, the use of a mobile MRI or MRI in a modular unit may be perfect. Here is some important information you should read before buying a mobile MRI.

What is a Mobile MRI?

A mobile MRI is a self-contained suite that houses the scanner, control room, and in some cases, a patient changing room. It’s called a mobile unit because the suite is built in a 48' semi-trailer which can be transported between multiple locations or connected directly to a facility.

The Three Most Common Mobile Use Cases

  • Scenario #1: Space and Building Constraints
    Generally, space within a facility is in high demand and MRI machines require prime real-estate. When first-floor space is not available or if a second unit is needed to keep up with demand, moving the MRI outside, into a mobile unit can be a solution. A mobile unit comes with its own shielding, protecting the integrity of the scanner’s image quality and the surrounding area from the powerful magnetic field, without additional construction costs.
  • Scenario #2: Splitting the Cost
    A single facility with low patient volumes may not justify the cost of an MRI machine. In these cases, placing the machine on a route increases its utilization and splits the cost between two or more locations. Keep in mind, when a system is on a route, it will require a driver, tractor, and support staff.
  • Scenario #3: Short Term Rentals
    A hospital or clinic does not need to purchase a mobile MRI in order to experience the benefits. In the event of having to replace an existing system, construct a new MRI suite, or a system failure, a short-term rental of a mobile MRI can help a facility keep up with demand. The goal is to avoid downtime, service disruptions, and loss of revenue.

How Much Does a Mobile MRI Cost?

The cost of a fixed site MRI can range between $250,000 for a refurbished value system to $2,500,000+ for a brand-new unit. That price is only for the system and does not include the installation or operating expense. A mobile MRI, in comparison, may have a higher upfront price, but lower overall cost. Mobiles start around $475,000 and can exceed $2,800,000. The additional cost is in the price of the trailer and build-out of the system.

Available Systems

If an organization is considering a mobile MRI, it is important to note that only select makes and models are certified for mobile use. While most mobile systems will have the 60cm bore size, some 70cm systems are available. The shielding on a mobile trailer also limits the field strength to 1.5T. Popular mobile options include the GE Signa 16x, GE Signa HDxT 23x, Siemens Avanto, and Siemens Espree.


Don’t be surprised if the service costs a bit more for a mobile unit. Service costs will vary depending on if the machine is on a route or if it is parked at your facility. Also, some service contracts cover the MRI machine only, while others cover the trailer as well.

If you’re looking for a mobile or fixed site MRI, 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 email [email protected] for more details and to speak with a medical equipment specialist.