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The Evolution of Magnetic Resonance Imaging: 3T MRI in Clinical Applications

Terry Duggan-Jahns, RT(R)(CT)(MR)(M)

  *Manager, Outpatient Diagnostic Imaging, St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma, Washington.
   Address correspondence to: Terry Duggan-Jahns, RT(R)(CT)(MR)(M), Manager, Outpatient Diagnostic Imaging, St. Joseph Medical Center, 1717 South J Street, Tacoma, WA 98405. E-mail: tdugganjahns@mac.com.

Disclosure Statement: Ms Duggan-Jahns reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.


Until recently, 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (3T MRI) was only used in research applications. However, as MRI technology evolves, 3T MRI studies (as opposed to 1.5T) are increasingly common in the clinical setting. The higher field strength of 3T MRI results in an increase in signal-to-noise ratio, spatial resolution, and speed, all of which may provide substantial benefits. However, radiologists familiar with 3T MRI have cited several limitations to the increased field strength, such as a greater amount of noise, imaging contrast issues, and safety concerns. This article will discuss the present challenges, benefits, and limitations of 3T MRI in the clinical setting in specific clinical applications, including imaging studies of the brain, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, extremities, cardiac system, vascular system, and breast.

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