MRI or CT? Although both machines provide images of the inside of the body, they are very different technologies, and each has its place in diagnosing injuries to the body’s neurological and musculoskeletal systems.
As a rule, MRI is superior for imaging water-containing tissue. This includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves and other soft tissues like ligaments and tendons. MRI can detect subtle differences between the types of tissues within the body and are often used to determine the extent of a joint injury.
CT scans use x-rays to generate images and are ideal for imaging calcified tissues, such as bones. CT can help to accurately diagnose or rule out fractures (broken bones). It can also detect small and subtle fractures that may not be visible on an x-ray.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. An experienced radiologist knows when and how to use each of these technologies based on the individual considerations and concerns of the patient.
CT scans are often used to diagnose trauma because they are both fast and cost-effective. High resolution CT scans can image the entire body, from head to toe, in mere seconds. If you’ve been injured in an accident and taken to a hospital, it is likely that you will have a CT scan to help the doctors perform a quick assessment of your injuries to determine if any immediate treatment is needed. A CT scan can identify internal bleeding or blood clots, as well as injuries to the body’s organs. It can also rule out these conditions, as well as fractures to the skull, spine and bones.
MRI is sometimes used to diagnose conditions normally reserved for CT. This includes when a patient is or may be pregnant and exposure to radiation is not advised. On the other hand, a patient with a metal implanted device (such as a pacemaker) may not be able to have an MRI because its powerful magnetic field could cause injury to the patient. In such cases, CT scans are the better option.
The good news is that ExpertMRI has both MRI and CT equipment, as well as the expertise to know which to use if you’ve been injured and require an accurate diagnosis. We also have the widest range of MRI systems and can even accommodate patients who get anxious or claustrophobic in a conventional MRI machine.
If you would like to schedule an imaging test but aren’t sure which is right for you, call us! We’ll provide information to you and/or your doctor to help make the right decision.