About 3T MRI

Standard MRI equipment at hospitals has offered clinicians a magnetic field strength of 1.5 tesla, or 1.5T. Recently, MRI machines with the higher "3T" field strength have moved out of the research realm and into clinical settings.

To take advantage of this new technology and the clinical benefits that go with it, Spectrum Health is acquiring two Signa HDx 3.0 MRI units from GE Healthcare.

The specialized applications of 3T MRI offer clinical benefits in several areas. Here's an overview:


  • Functional MRI (fMRI) provides a "map" of brain functions such as motor, memory and speech/language centers. fMRI offers insight on where and how to approach a tumor and how much can be safely removed.
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) reveals the brain's fiber tracts, showing how the brain is "wired." Tractography, the 3-D representation of this data, illustrates the location of fiber tracts and how they connect in the brain. In cases of traumatic brain injury, stroke and seizures, DTI can help assess levels of cognitive deficit and brain damage.
  • Spectroscopy measures metabolites that may reveal, without a surgical biopsy, whether a lesion is a tumor and if it is benign or malignant. Spectroscopy can characterize brain tumors and show how a tumor responds to treatment. It may also help differentiate between a tumor and stroke.
  • Perfusion imaging measures blood volume and how quickly it flows through tissue. It may be useful in establishing if a malignancy is high or low grade prior to biopsy, and for noninvasively characterizing intracranial vascular parameters. Perfusion also is useful in assessing stroke and distinguishing stroke with an atypical imaging appearance from a tumor.


  • 3T MRI can effectively screen for breast tumors in high-risk populations, such as women with a strong family history of breast cancer or women who have had cancer before.
  • It offers improvements over mammography for women with dense breast tissue and can be used to check for breast implant leakage.
  • It aids pre-surgical planning and evaluation for breast tumors and can detect unsuspected cancer in the other breast.
  • The use of perfusion imaging and spectroscopy with 3T MRI can help determine if a breast tumor is benign or malignant, or the degree of malignancy.


  • The increased power of 3T noninvasively improves the visualization of musculoskeletal abnormalities, providing a more accurate depiction of cartilage tears, injuries and degeneration. 3T improves imaging in areas such as knees, hips, shoulders, wrists, fingers and toes, for both adult and pediatric populations.

For More Information

We would be happy to discuss Spectrum Health's new 3T MRIs and answer any questions you may have. Please call 616.391.1812 if you would like to speak with someone about the following:

For further information, read or download our Staff Talking Points handout (PDF, 104KB).