In Part 1 of “How To Purchase A Refurbished MRI” we talked about some of the different types of MRI’s— High-Field, Open, and Extremity. We also discussed briefly the market in the U.S. for used and refurbished MRI’s, and how important it is to choose the correct vendor. 

In this Part 2 we’ll discuss how advance planning, facility design, installation, and training will ultimately determine the success of your new project.

Facility & Magnetic Room Design & Planning Whether you begin with an empty space, or with a pre-existing radio-frequency magnet room, considerations of design for your used MRI are critical for success. A good magnet room and facility design can enhance image quality, insure economic success, and make for a better experience for patients, technicians and radiologists. When purchasing your used or refurbished MRI you should also ensure that the company selling you the system has experience designing and implementing MRI magnet rooms and understands all of the necessary considerations for proper electrical design, cryogenic cooling (if required), and makes allowances for the customization of your particular space.

Installation, Calibration, Ramping and Shimming Your Magnet

The installation of your MRI consists of many stages, all of which need to be well planned for and executed correctly. At any stage an installation can go wrong if the proper planning and experienced people have not been put into place beforehand.  

If the system you are buying uses cryogens— i.e. liquid helium— you will have to make arrangements for installing and testing a chiller. The chiller typically is mounted on the roof of your building, or on a concrete pad beside the building. In addition, you must be prepared to use plumbing contractors to do the piping and leak test the system before the MRI magnet is delivered. Any good and experienced MRI sales company should be able to help set this up and insure the success of your operation.

Calibration, Ramping and Shimming are further important elements of the MRI installation. Ramping is re-energizing the magnet if it is a super-conducting system. All systems, whether super-conducting or permanent require proper shimming and calibration. Shimming is “tweaking” the field of your specific magnet in relation to the specific room you are placing in into. Incredibly, some companies install MRI systems but do not actually use the manufacturer’s shimming software to insure your system is properly tuned to its new location. This can result in less than optimal image quality Calibration is just what it sounds like— i.e making sure your system is working 100% within manufacturer’s specs.

Setting Up Protocols, In-Service and Applications Training

Since each MRI system’s location and use is slightly different from every other location's— i.e. you may do mainly orthopedic, while another practice does mainly neuro work— your new system should be set-up with protocols which match your intended usage. This customizing is the key to rapid integration of your new system into your specific practice.

Likewise the "In-Service" process should focus on specifics tuned to your needs— i.e. “who" exactly will be doing the scanning at your site. In other words, are we working with a novice MRI Tech right out of school who has only used an MRI a dozen times? Or are we working with an experienced MRI tech who has years of extensive experience with GE systems, but does not know the refurbished Siemens system we are installing at your site? Or (in the best of all possible worlds) are we working with a tech who knows the system we are installing and has already received formal clinical applications training on that specific model. This “People Variable” can even change half-way through a project, thus it is important that your refurbished MRI vendor can handle any situation.


In the final analysis what exact model MRI you purchase is ultimately less important than who you choose to work with on your MRI purchase. A great vendor can guide you through each step of the project, and a less-than-great vendor can (yikes) walk you right into oncoming traffic. In our next installment, i.e. Part 3 of “How To Purchase A Refurbished MRI” we will be covering the different manufacturers of MRI’s and the pluses and minuses of each. Until then, “Happy Scanning."