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3T MRI: What it is and how it’s different from other MRIs.

Key takeaways:

  • 3T MRIs provide a faster, more efficient way to scan multiple organs at once than traditional MRIs.
  • 3T MRIs typically have twice the strength of a regular MRI and may help spot more abnormalities. 
  • 3T MRIs may provide a better patient experience for some people. 

A 3T MRI is the fastest diagnostic MRI technology available. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of non-invasive scanning technique that generates high-quality cross-sectional images of a person’s body without exposing them to harmful radiation. 

Most of the time, doctors order MRIs because they want to look at specific areas of the body independently. However, if you want to get a fuller health picture, you may be interested in knowing that it’s possible to scan your body all at once. An Ezra Full Body takes around an hour using a 3T MRI machine.. 

Here you’ll learn how a 3T MRI differs from traditional MRIs. 

What is a tesla?

Bear with us: We need to review terminology before moving forward.

In terms of magnetic resonance imaging, a tesla is a unit of measurement that describes the strength of the magnetic field. It’s named after famed inventor Nikola Tesla, who was the first person to study the rotating magnetic field. 

The strongest magnet in the world measures 45 Tesla (45T), which is much stronger than the magnet strength of today’s most common MRI scanners. 

Comparing 3T to other MRI modalities.

3T MRI: patient entering an MRI machine

Even though MRI machines have been around since the 1970s, they weren’t widely used until much later. Much of the reason for that was because of the cost of the scanners and the fact that most insurance policies would not cover the procedure.

In 1985, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) issued guidelines that established coverage for MRIs. Private insurance soon followed suit to cover the expense of MRIs as well.

Today, many radiologists prefer MRI exams for imaging soft tissue structures like the brain, spinal cord, musculoskeletal system, liver, and pelvic area. The scan may also pick up abnormalities in vascular areas like blood vessels.

Although 3T MRI is superior to traditional MRIs in many ways, most imaging centers, hospitals, and clinics still use the standard 1.5T MRI and consider it to be a reliable and cost-effective machine. 

3T vs open MRI.

An open MRI is often sought as an option for anyone with claustrophobia and anxiety and those who are overweight or disabled in certain ways. The major drawback is that the already decreased magnet strength (0.3T to 0.7T) is further hindered by the open platform design, often resulting in unusable images of poor quality. 

Images produced by closed, wide-bore MRIs may help radiologists spot tissue changes sooner and help doctors reach a diagnosis faster due to better image quality. 

The 3T MRI is also great at imaging the brain and vascular and musculoskeletal systems. Unlike traditional MRIs, it’s even good at imaging small bones. 3T MRI takes less time and provides higher clarity with better detail because the magnet is twice as strong.

To produce a “signal,” an MRI scanner orients protons to align with the magnetic field in the bore of the scanner. A closed system produces a better signal. Systems like open MRI produce a weaker signal. And even though the 3T scanner has a larger bore, it doesn’t sacrifice quality like the open MRI. This is due to the higher magnet strength. 

Additionally, with a larger bore size and shorter tube, 3T MRI patients don’t feel as enclosed. At 70 cm, the bore size accommodates more diverse body types.

3T MRI Vs. 1.5T MRI: Improved patient experience.

Happy family hugging each other

During a traditional MRI scan, patients have to be very still for up to an hour while inside the banging, clanging bore of the MRI. For patients suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, and claustrophobia, spending an hour inside of a closed bore MRI is a challenging proposition.

In addition to having a larger bore, as mentioned earlier, the 3T is also faster than a traditional MRI. A 3 Tesla MRI is faster because the magnet is stronger. That means less time in the tube and less time to keep still. Clearer images the first time prevent the aggravation of getting called back for more scans. 

Are 3T MRIs safe?

Safety precautions for all MRIs are largely the same. Be sure to safely remove any jewelry, hearing aids, and piercings ahead of time. Before the scan, also let your Ezra team member know if you have tattoos or implants of any kind anywhere in your body. 

Tattoos and permanent make-up are sometimes a problem when scanning because there is a small amount of metal in the ink. Some patients report burning pain, and swelling during and after scans. 

Before your scan, tell your provider or technician if you have an implanted medical device, even if the device was deemed “MRI safe.” Some MRI-safe items are a-go for traditional MRIs but are not approved for use in 3T MRIs

What should I expect at my Ezra appointment?

You can easily book an appointment for Ezra’s Full Body or Full Body Plus scan service online in less than 5 minutes. Be sure to fill out your Medical Questionnaire 4 days before your scan date. Please arrive at your appointment at least 30 minutes early.. 

When it’s time for your scan, a facility member will escort you to a dressing area where you can change into some of our comfy PJs and soft slippers. Be sure to ask any questions and listen carefully to any instructions you get before or during the MRI exam. The Full Body takes approximately 60 minutes in the 3T MRI machine.

Once we receive your results, we will follow up with you via telehealth to go over the findings and answer questions. 

Ezra only scans on 3T MRIs. 

Both standard 1.5T and 3T MRIs produce exceptional and detailed images, making either a valid option. Because they are safe, adequate, and cost less to purchase and maintain, 1.5T systems remain common in healthcare. 

Ezra focuses on highly detailed imaging working only in a 3T MRI system. We screen up to 14 organs for potential cancer and pre-cancer warning signs. You don’t need a referral. Our pricing is transparent and affordable. We offer monthly payment plans and accept health savings accounts (HSA) as well as flexible savings accounts (FSA).

Do you have 5 minutes and want a better understanding of your risk for cancer? Our quiz is based on the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention’s Cancer Risk Index. Knowing your risk is a great first step toward prevention.