With an abundance of diagnostic imaging scans to choose from, deciding on which is best for your area of concern can be difficult for those who aren't experts in the field of radiology. A common question we receive from our patients is "what is the difference between CT and MRI scans?". We're here to set the record straight and give you everything you need to know to choose which scan is best for you.
What’s a CT?
A CT gives a good view of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissue. They can be viewed all at the same time. A CT is usually used for injuries, for abdominal problems or for spotting tumors inside the body. A CT takes usually less than 5 minutes. A CT usually does not cause any discomfort and has low radiation exposure.
What’s an MRI?
An MRI has a better view of soft tissues with an image that has a better resonance. An MRI is usually used after a CT. However, it is used a lot for spine and neck injuries. An MRI takes on average 30-60 minutes. MRI’s usually give no radiation exposure to the patient, however MRI’s are known for being uncomfortable. There are different types of MRI’s which are called open bore, wide bore and closed bore. These three types of MRI’s refer to how large the hole is where the patient is laying in order to take images of their body. MRI’s get a lot of harsh criticism, especially from claustrophobic people, but a lot of doctor’s offices have adopted open bore MRI machines. These machine are open and don’t make people feel enclosed into a tiny hole.
What is the cost of each of them?
Depending on your insurance plan, CT’s are usually cheaper than MRI’s. Even though they do slightly different procedures, they are usually close in price range.
What’s right for me?
Both CT’s and MRI’s are used for capturing detailed images to diagnose diseases and conditions in the body. CT’s are used to look at your bones, blood vessels and soft tissue. This can be helpful for an injury of the bone or for looking at blood vessel abnormalities. CT’s also work very quickly; this is why most emergency rooms use CT scanners. MRI’s go deeper in looking at soft tissue, they are little bit more detailed when dealing with the soft tissue. MRI’s are commonly used for neck, spine and brain injuries. However, it is smart to consult with your doctor about which procedure you should do based on your medical history.
MRI's and CT scans both play and important role in the diagnostic imaging world. We hope that this direct comparison will help you choose which scan is best for you. If you have questions about MRI's, call our practice for everything you need to know about Open MRI's.