Medical imaging has become essential to medical care and treatment in Canada. In 2012, Canadians underwent 1.7 million magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams and 4.4 million computed tomography (CT) exams. This represents nearly double the number of such exams performed in 2003.

At CIHI, we provide the accurate and timely data Canadian policy-makers need to make sound decisions about medical imaging.

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Information on medical imaging

 Data highlights
 Reports and analyses
 Databases and data sources

Data highlights

In early 2013, CIHI released new data on medical imaging in Canada. This data shows that rates for diagnostic tests, such as MRI exams and CT scans, vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another:

  • In 2011–2012, the national rate for MRI exams was 49 per 1,000 people. Rates ranged from highs of 61 (Ontario) and 55 (Manitoba) to lows of 32 (Prince Edward Island) and 33 (British Columbia).
  • In 2011–2012, the national rate for CT scans was 126 per 1,000 people. Rates ranged from highs of 209 (New Brunswick) and 170 (Newfoundland and Labrador) to lows of 88 (Alberta) and 93 (Prince Edward Island).
  • In 2011–2012, there were 62,668 PET and PET/CT exams performed in Canada, over 98% in hospital settings.
  • In 2012, 79% of MRI scanners and 95% of CT scanners were in hospital settings; the remainder were in free-standing clinics.
  • By January 1, 2012, there were 308 operational MRI scanners and 510 operational CT scanners in Canada. The corresponding numbers for 2011 were 293 and 502.
  • In 2011–2012, the Canadian rate for MRI exams was 49 per 1,000 people. In Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the rate for MRI exams varied from highs of 98 (United States) and 95 (Germany) to lows of 7 (Chile) and 18 (Israel).
  • In 2011–2012, the Canadian rate for CT scans was 126 per 1,000 people. In OECD countries, the rate for CT scans varied from highs of 275 (Estonia) and 265 (United States) to lows of 50 (Chile) and 66 (Netherlands).

Reports and analyses

Databases and data sources

National Survey of Selected Medical Imaging Equipment

The National Survey of Selected Medical Imaging Equipment collects data from all provinces and territories for public and private health care facilities that have one or more of the selected types of high-tech equipment. CIHI assumed responsibility for the survey in 2003, and each version of the survey since then has introduced new data elements. For example, the 2004 survey added the number of MRI and CT exams performed, and the 2009 survey included data on wait times.

Canadian MIS Database

The Canadian MIS Database (CMDB) is the national data source for financial and statistical information about hospitals and health regions. We collect data on day-to-day health service operations according to a standardized framework known as the Standards for Management Information Systems in Canadian Health Service Organizations (MIS Standards).

Health Workforce Database

The Health Workforce Database (HWDB) is the only national database containing a broad variety of data on Canada’s health workforce. The HWDB enables time-series comparisons of health human resources at national and provincial/territorial levels.

The type of information maintained for each professional group varies, depending on the data available. We gather data from more than 300 organizations, including regulatory associations and colleges, educational institutions and national associations.


Metadata is information about data. It helps users understand and interpret data from a specific source.

Find out more about the data on medical imaging technology:

Medical Imaging Technology Database (MITDB)