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Our Guide to All the Costs of Operating an MRI Machine

May 14, 2021 | Tech Tips, MRI

MRI scans are some of the most expensive medical imaging procedures in the healthcare industry because it covers all the costs of operating and maintaining an MRI machine.

In 2021, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 out of pocket. The actual expense depends on the body part being scanned and the complexity of the procedure.

Read on for a comprehensive guide on all the costs that come with purchasing and operating an MRI machine.


MRI Acquisition

The cost of acquiring an MRI machine depends primarily on whether you’re buying a brand new or refurbished model. MRI machines only have a 28% depreciation rate, so machines dating back to 2007 can still deliver crystal clear images for imaging procedures in 2021. Experienced buyers can easily navigate the secondary market for MRI machines.

If you have the budget to buy brand new, you can get a machine directly from one of five MRI manufacturers in the United States. MRI machines come in different sizes and magnetic power, but each manufacturer specializes in specific MRI strengths, so there’s very little cost comparison to be done.

To give you a general benchmark of potential expenses, open system MRI machines (low field, 0.3T) range from $150,000 to $1.2 million while closed systems (high field, 3T) cost up to $3 million.


MRI Installation

Before you purchase a machine, you need to build an MRI suite. This room should be large enough to accommodate the machine and contain all the necessary safety features that should be built in to protect the radiology personnel and all your patients. These features can cost up to $100,000, including magnetic fringe fields, RF shielding, and cryogen storage and venting.

The MRI installation process is incredibly complicated. A machine can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and its large magnet uses liquid helium to maintain its temperature near absolute zero. The liquid helium should be kept at the correct levels at all times, or else all the MRI components will be damaged during transport and installation.


MRI Operation and Maintenance

MRI operating costs depend on the specific MRI system and the level of maintenance your machine requires. MRI machines in healthcare facilities with high patient volume require significantly more maintenance than those in smaller establishments.

MRI manufacturers can charge an average of $600 for hourly service, and maintenance agreement plans can range from $2,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on the machine’s magnetic power.

Energy costs depend primarily on the type and size of the machine. Closed extremity systems are only large enough to scan arms and legs, so if your healthcare facility only uses one of these, your electrical bill may be as low as $50. Suppose you have a powerful 3T MRI that runs 24/7 in a high-volume facility. In that case, you may need the electrical power capacity equivalent to five or six modern households (nearly $15,000 per month).

Other than regular internal maintenance from the manufacturer, MRIs often don’t need many repairs. Even refurbished machines can last decades after market release.



MRI machines are made up of heavy components that perform very complex processes, so every step from acquisition to maintenance can be prohibitively expensive. If you want to purchase an MRI system on a limited budget, you can opt for refurbished machines with limited capabilities.

If you’re looking for a refurbished CT for your facility, you need a supplier that will assist you every step of the way. DirectMed Parts is ISO 13485 certified, with strict quality assurance and installation procedures with OEM-trained engineers. We also specialize in CT and MRI parts and coils, and we strive to provide excellent service to all our customers. Contact us today for all your medical imaging needs!

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