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The Differences Between CT & MRI Scans

The Differences Between CT & MRI Scans
The Differences Between CT & MRI Scans

The Differences Between CT & MRI Scans

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses to produce comprehensive pictures of the internal body and organ structures. MRI provides details about skeletal systems, the brain, soft tissue, and the reproductive systems. MRI scans are noninvasive, but they are noisy and take more time than a CT scan. You will be asked to lie still while the MRI is taking place. MRI's are most commonly used for images of:

  1. joints
  2. blood vessels
  3. brain
  4. heart
  5. breast
  6. ankles
  7. wrists

A CT ( computerized tomography) scan is a combination of a series of X-ray images taken at various angles; the CT uses a computer to create images from these X-rays. CT scans utilize X-Rays to produce an image of the inside of the body. A CT scan uses radiation like X-rays, where an MRI does not. CT scans are fast, painless, quiet and noninvasive. During a CT scan, you will be asked to lie still on a table. The table then moves through the CT scan to take cross-sectional pictures inside your body. CT scans are most commonly used for images of:

  1. cancer monitoring
  2. bone fractures
  3. tumors
  4. looking for internal bleeding

CT scans are used more often than MRIs and are typically less expensive. MRIs are thought to be superior regarding the image's detail over those of a CT scan. Both CT scans and MRI scans are relatively safe. However, if you have a defibrillator or pacemaker, MRI is not recommended. Any metal devices may interact with the magnetic field and risk harm during an MRI. Speak to your doctor if these are potential concerns for you. CT scans do not have these same issues; however, they expose the patient to a small amount of radiation. Though it's a relatively low dose, it is still something to know when choosing between an MRI or CT scan. Certain types of CT scans may not be appropriate during pregnancy, so speak with your doctor if you believe you may be pregnant.

Plan to have a discussion with your doctor to determine which imaging is recommended and best for you. Be sure to ask questions and discuss any concerns with your doctor, so you can be comfortable with the choice they recommend.

Our Houston MRI ® & Diagnostic Imaging mission is to provide the patients and physicians with affordable medical diagnostic imaging in a warm and patient-friendly environment. It is our goal to make the medical imaging procedure as pleasant as possible. Our communities promise "hospital quality imaging without the hospital costs" with efficient service to both our patients and physicians.