Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The global market of the MRI is actually valued in the area of North America in $ 5,5 billion dollars (2010) and it is estimated to increase to $ 7.5 billion US dollars for the year 2015. From this, the USA market it is estimated in $ 4, 5 billion dollars (2010) with a projection to reach the 5.8 billion dollars in 2015 (GIA, Reportliker 2010).

The main producers of MRI are GE (Signa), Siemens (Magnetom), Phillips (Achieva, Intera, and Panorama), Hitachi (Aaltaire, Airis) and Toshiba (Vantage, Opart, Ultra). The products they offers go from low field strength systems (0.1 – 0.5T), passing for mid field strength (0.5 – 1T) and high field strength (generally 1.5 T) until reaching very high field intensity (generally about 3T)


Type of procedures

Actually, the biggest demand of MRI process in the USA is for brain scans, the head, neck and spine scans and limbs explorations keep a close second place.

Types of procedures MRI 2010 vs 2007

Type of MRI Procedure 2010
Amount of procedures (millions) % of procedures % of working places
Spine 7.5 25% 97%
Brain, Head & Neck 8.7 29% 89%
Limbs 7.3 24% 99.5%
Vascular (MRA) 2.3 8% 99%
Pelvis & Abdominal 2 7% 91%
Breast 1.1 4% 55%
Chest, other cardiac 1.1 4% 19%
Other ( interventional) 0.2 1% 5%
Total 30.2
Type of MRI procedure 2007
Amount of procedures (millions) % of procedures % of places working
Spine 7.1 27% 100%
Brain, Head & Neck 8.5 32% 94%
Limbs 5.3 20% 99%
Vascular (MRA) 2.4 9% 88%
Pelvis & Abdominal 1.9 7% 91%
Breast 0.5 2% 26%
Chest, other cardiac 0.8 3% 34%
Other ( interventional) 0.2 1% 5%
Total 26.7

The MRI Market

The MRI has been an important tool in the clinic diagnostic since the 80’s, with an actual global market estimated into about $ 4,5 billion dollars a year from the sale of about 3500 systems (Global Industry Analysts, 2008; Frost & Sullivan, 2008). The USA, Europe and Japan represent about the 80% from this total and they are largely mature markets with buyers actualizing their obsolete systems and the acquisition of additional MRI scanners to satisfy the demand, within a strict criteria cost-efficiency.

Only ONI medical systems, sold systems based in high intensity field superconductors in this market (including the new system launched in 2008 incorporating our first magnet product). The installed base of the ONI is from about 175 scanners worldwide. GE pointed out the growing importance of this branch of the market through the acquisition of assets of the company ONI in 2009 (Reuters 2009), and also its intention of growing in this market significantly and rapidly (Pulse Fall 2009, spring 2010). This system meets the objectives of GE of (low) cost, quality and (a raise) of access.

An specialized MRI system of a very high field intensity , like for example a limb scanner, is a lot more little (350 – 400 KG), cheaper and easier to install, and it breaks in torn to 4-5 patients for day, compared with 20 to 23 patients a day for a full body scanner of a very high field intensity.

The specialized scanners are an efficient and profitable solution to satisfy this market, and these are attractive for hospitals and the specialized departments of hospitals and imaging diagnostic clinics.

Other potential applications for these specialized scanners include clinical essays (for example rats and rabbits scanning, providing images without sacrificing the animals), or the veterinary application to small pets and zoo animals.

The main integrators in the MRI

The five main integrators of systems (GE Healthcare, Siemens, Philips, Toshiba and Hitachi) domain the world market of MRI, with GE and Siemens covering most part of the market. The rest of the market gets divided along the smaller companies, often of a rigid niche (for example Esaote – Low intensity of field for limbs, IMRIS – intraoperative systems; Fonar – Vertical systems with low field intensity).

The main systems integrators usually doesn’t operate in new niches of market, they let the other players to establish said niches, GE healthcare recently entered to the market of limb imaging. There are no Chinese or Indian system integrators that sell their own MRI superconductive systems yet. However, a series of companies in China and India are taking measures to enter in this market competing with the big multinationals, and Meditegic believes that there’s a big opportunity to sell their products and designs in these big markets.

The main systems integrators have established I+D, sales, and supply chains in the main hospitals and clinics of the USA, Europe and Japan and also in the main hospitals of the developing markets.

Superconductor magnet producers for MRI.

GE, Siemens and Phillips had their own intern production. Phillips acquired IGC (his magnet supplier) in 2006. Hitachi doesn’t have knowledge or the infrastructure to design and produce and Toshiba doesn’t have the ability or infrastructure to produce cylinders of full body of super conductive magnets. Toshiba acquires his magnets from Siemens or Mitsubishi, while Hitachi acquires his super conductive magnets of high field intensity from Siemens.

GE, Siemens and Phillips have magnet factories in the USA and Europe; these are configured for massive production specifically for their main systems. These are expensive to maintain and extremely expensive to change the operation practices.

The main system integrators have a limited capacity to produce customized solutions and when they provide magnets to external organizations it is with the older existing products.

Mitsubishi, the only independent main producer of super conductive magnets, doesn’t produce customized solutions and is subject to cost for currency fluctuation.

Other producers of superconductive magnets focus mainly in the no MRI magnets; these include Magnex (UK, property of Varian) and Bruker (Germany).

The entrance barriers mean that these are not completely independent MRI magnet producers who have supply of super conductive cable, the development of products and the capacity of delivery.