f01a.jpg (8887 bytes)Anxious patients, unable or unwilling to slide into a long, dim tunnel for a magnetic resonance (MR) scan, have been opting for open MRIs since its introduction in the early 1980s. Although open MRI designs vary, from Philips Medical Systems North America’s (Bothell, Wash.) C-arm configuration to Siemens Medical Solutions’ (Iselin, N.J.) posts, each is intended to provide patients with greater visibility and to ease their anxiety.

Though popular with patients, early open MRI systems could not give radiologists the superior resolution capabilities of its higher field cylindrical cousins and were limited primarily to diagnostic imaging.

Companies are now introducing physicians to a new member of the family, and eliminating the compromise of an attractive system to patients that creates images not so attractive to physicians. Recently introduced higher field and performance open MRI systems provide both superior image quality and patient-friendly designs. The combination is proving irresistible to buyers who can afford the higher price tag that comes with that higher power.

High-field Open Systems
The U.S. MRI market is growing, according to a recent report from market research firm Frost & Sullivan (San Jose, Calif.). In 2000, the MR market was $1.1 billion, a 9 percent growth rate for the year. About one-third of that market comes from open MRI sales. Antonio Garcia, a Frost & Sullivan research analyst, says the introduction of high-field open MRI systems will create new demand for open systems, boosting sales and taking some market share away from the tubular systems, although tubular systems will continue to dominate the market.

Please refer to the January 2002 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis