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Difference Between MRI and CT Scan

mri-medicalMRI vs. CT Scan

People often question their doctors as to why certain procedures have to be done. More so, one procedure is recommended more than the other. In this regard, two related diagnostic examinations have been scrutinized, not just because of their price, but also because of the benefits that the patient will receive upon completion of these procedures. These are the MRI and the CT scan.

In terms of the body parts that needs to be examined, the CT scan does not fair well in visualizing the spinal cord, ligaments and the tendons (or perhaps not yet at this time). Nevertheless, the MRI is the ideal choice for that function. For spotting tumors, an MRI is the best option. Moreover, for other popular cases such as brain hemorrhages, knowing the extent of cancer and pneumonia, and confirming abnormal chest CXR (X-rays), the CT scan is dubbed as the treatment modality of choice. This is also the reason why the said device is best in examining the lungs ,or chest areas, because it can visualize these cavities in a far better way than the MRI.

The mechanism in which the two equipments operate, is differentiated in terms of the physics, or the science involved. In a CT scan, the device utilizes X-rays that sort of ‘slices’ you in a similar manner to how a knife slices a piece of meat. An MRI, on the contrary, makes use of a magnetic field. This is quite an obvious statement, since MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Using certain radio frequencies, and the magnetic field, the MRI causes a resonating wobbling effect to the hydrogen molecules in your body, to produce an image of the body part to be examined.

Lastly, with regard to the structure of the equipment, the CT scan is more donut-shaped, and shorter compared to the longer-looking MRI.

Nevertheless, prescribing which exam of the two is necessary, is the choice of your doctor. The usage of each is case specific, and varies from person to person. It is also based on what part of your body needs to be visualized.

1. The CT scan is the best procedure to use when visualizing cancer, pneumonia, the chest cavity, and brain hemorrhages, while the MRI is the best to use when examining the spinal cord, ligaments, tendons, and tumors.

2. The CT scan is a more donut shaped device compared to the MRI, which is practically longer.

3. The CT scan combines X-rays to produce an image, while the MRI makes use of the harmony between a magnetic field and certain radio frequencies.

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1 Comment

  1. This is missing an important piece of information. The level of radiation that the CT scan exposes you to. Body scans have become somewhat popular with the health conscious people who can afford it, but full body scan have been criticized because of the high levels of radiation. In theory the MRI is safer than the CT scan. Also, it’s interesting how the MRI is better for tumors but the CT scan is better for cancer. Aren’t tumors cause by cancer in some instances? I suppose that the MRI is better for studying the shape and size of the tumor, but the MRI is better for studying the actual cancer cells. Helping with directing cancer cells that have spread but has not yet formed tumors. Is that correct?

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