A systematic review of the utility of 1.5 versus 3 Tesla magnetic resonance brain imaging in clinical practice and research

Joanna M. Wardlaw, Will Brindle, Ana M. Casado, Kirsten Shuler, Moira Henderson, Brenda Thomas, Jennifer Macfarlane, Susana Munoz Maniega, Katherine Lymer, Zoe Morris, Cyril Pernet, William Nailon, Trevor Ahearn, Abdul Nashirudeen Mumuni, Carlos Mugruza Vassallo, John McLean, Goultchira Chakirova, Yuehui (Terry) Tao, Johanna Simpson, Andrew C. StanfieldHarriet Johnston, Jehill Parikh, Natalie A. Royle, Janet De Wilde, Mark E. Bastin, Nick Weir, Andrew Farrall, Maria C. Valdes Hernandez, SINAPSE Collaborative Group

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    68 Citations (Scopus)


    MRI at 3 T is said to be more accurate than 1.5 T MR, but costs and other practical differences mean that it is unclear which to use.

    We systematically reviewed studies comparing diagnostic accuracy at 3 T with 1.5 T. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and other sources from 1 January 2000 to 22 October 2010 for studies comparing diagnostic accuracy at 1.5 and 3 T in human neuroimaging. We extracted data on methodology, quality criteria, technical factors, subjects, signal-to-noise, diagnostic accuracy and errors according to QUADAS and STARD criteria.

    Amongst 150 studies (4,500 subjects), most were tiny, compared old 1.5 T with new 3 T technology, and only 22 (15 %) described diagnostic accuracy. The 3 T images were often described as "crisper", but we found little evidence of improved diagnosis. Improvements were limited to research applications [functional MRI (fMRI), spectroscopy, automated lesion detection]. Theoretical doubling of the signal-to-noise ratio was not confirmed, mostly being 25 %. Artefacts were worse and acquisitions took slightly longer at 3 T.

    Objective evidence to guide MRI purchasing decisions and routine diagnostic use is lacking. Rigorous evaluation accuracy and practicalities of diagnostic imaging technologies should be the routine, as for pharmacological interventions, to improve effectiveness of healthcare.

    aEuro cent Higher field strength MRI may improve image quality and diagnostic accuracy.

    aEuro cent There are few direct comparisons of 1.5 and 3 T MRI.

    aEuro cent Theoretical doubling of the signal-to-noise ratio in practice was only 25 %.

    aEuro cent Objective evidence of improved routine clinical diagnosis is lacking.

    aEuro cent Other aspects of technology improved images more than field strength.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2295-2303
    Number of pages9
    JournalEuropean Radiology
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    Dive into the research topics of 'A systematic review of the utility of 1.5 versus 3 Tesla magnetic resonance brain imaging in clinical practice and research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this