MRI vs. CT: What are the Differences

MRI

An MRI and a CT scan are both non-invasive ways for a doctor to see what’s going on inside your body. These scans are used to locate the cause of your health condition, diagnose it, and then develop a treatment plan. The primary difference is that MRIs use radio waves while CTs use X-rays. Depending on your current issue and health history, your doctor may recommend one over the other.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

MRI imaging uses a magnetic field and radio waves to alter the fat and water molecules inside your body. When these molecules realign, they give off a radio signal which is picked up and interpreted by a computer into a 2D or 3D image. This image shows your doctor the inside of your body to assess the area and develop a diagnosis.

MRI services are often recommended for health conditions related to your joints, brain, and blood vessels. This is because they are great at detecting tumors, brain injuries, heart conditions, and more.

Since the machine is quite loud, many MRI facilities will offer earplugs or headphones to help you drown out the noise. You must lay perfectly still during the entire procedure to ensure the final scan is clear enough for your doctor to see.

CT (Computed Tomography)

Formerly known as CAT scans, a CT scan uses X-rays to look inside your body. They are more common than MRIs and less expensive, though they produce less detailed images. However, they are still the primary choice for locating fractures and internal bleeding, viewing tissues, organs, and skeletal structures, and monitoring cancer progression.

Unlike MRIs, there is a small amount of radiation used during a CT scan. However, it is minimal and should not be a cause for concern.

CT scans are faster than MRIs, which can make them a better choice for children who have difficulty lying still or those who may experience increased body temperature or claustrophobia after long periods of time inside the machine.

Which is Right for You?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to medical imaging. Likely, you won’t be expected to make the decision yourself. Instead, your doctor will recommend an MRI or CT for you, based on the health condition being treated, your health history, and the desired detail of the scan. For a more general look inside the body, a CT scan can work perfectly well. No matter what type of scan you end up getting, know that your entire healthcare team is supporting you, so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

Need MRI Services?

Advanced Surgical Hospital provides MRI imaging to patients no matter where they’re from or who their doctor is. MRI Imaging at Advanced Surgical Hospital is designed to put you at ease during testing. Give us a call at 724 884-0754 or connect with us online to make an appointment.