Differences Between MRIs And CT Scans

MRIs And CT Scans

The need to examine the internal organs of a human body has increased over the years. While external part of the body could be easily checked, getting a clear picture of a body’s internal organs is usually complicated. Therefore, modern technology has developed machines to scan internal organs for better and more accurate diagnosis.

The two major equipment used to study the internal human anatomy are magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan and computer tomography (CT) scan. These two are the primary tools used for imaging the internal body. While MRIs and CT scans perform almost the same function, there are still differences that could be drawn out from them; click to find out more and browse through other sites to learn more scanning.

Reasons For Medical Scans

There are several reasons why people undergo scanning. Mostly it’s usually after a doctor’s recommendation. 

The reasons why medical scans are done include the following:

  • Tumor Removal: During medication such as cancer treatment or tumor treatments, a scan will be necessary to help doctors determine the tumor’s position. When treatment is administered, a scan will also help to monitor the progress of the tumor elimination. 
  • Brain Examination: In case of severe headaches, nosebleeds, or trauma, a scan is usually done to determine the injury’s extent. Neurosurgeons also use scanning to map the brain before performing surgery.
  • Cardiovascular Examination: Scanning can be done when performing a cardiovascular examination. This will help cardiologists to easily determine the structure of the tissues and blood vessels around the heart. They can also check for any abnormalities in the anatomy of the heart.
  • Checking For Internal Injuries: Scanning helps to identify cases of internal injuries such as ligament and tendon damage. Furthermore, it also helps to check liver and kidney health.
  • Checking For Spinal Injury: It could be difficult to diagnose diseases and injury in the spinal region. MRI scans, however, can help detect any problems in the structural formation of the spine. 

Main Differences Between MRI and CT scan

CT scan and an MRI utilize different techniques to capture images of internal organs that may render different results. 

Here are some of the differences: 

  • Imaging
See also  What is VoIP Technology?

The techniques of scanning between the two tools are probably the main difference. CT scans use X-rays to image internal organs. Unlike the ordinary X-ray machine, the CT scan has a computer and a series of rotating X-rays machines. The computer then creates a cross-sectional image of a body part.

On the other hand, MRI machines use magnetic fields and radiofrequency to image an internal organ. The magnetic beam spins the proton in the body to align to the field. A radio frequency is then passed, causing the protons to strain against this field. The field is then turned off, causing the protons to realign back to their original positions at different rates. These different rates of realignments will then enable the receiver to develop a detailed three-dimensional image. 

  • Usage

Both these two scans are used when imaging the internal structures. However, MRIs are more efficient when scanning the softer tissues. An MRI scan is preferred when diagnosing ligament injury, muscle tear, spinal issues, monitor tumors, and complicated abdominal abnormalities.

A CT scan is believed to be as not as efficient when diagnosing soft tissues. They’re, however, efficient in diagnosing fractured bones, head traumas, determining tumor positions, stage cancer, and guide biopsy. CT scans are also said to be faster and therefore preferred in emergencies. 

  • Safety

These two methods are said to be both safe when performed by professionals. However, some minor risks may occur during the procedures. In MRI, the magnetic field could be dangerous if the patient carries or has metal accessories in their bodies. Such accessories include aneurysm clips and cardiac pacesetters. Exposing patients with vessel clips to such strong magnetic fields could cause severe bleeding. There have been sporadic cases of allergic reactions in MRI patients. 

CT scans don’t possess the same kind of risk of magnetic pulls but could, however, expose patients to small amounts of radiation which MRI doesn’t have. It’s also not advisable to expose pregnant women to certain types of CT scans because it could cause harm to the fetus. The intravenous contrast used with CT scans is rarely allergic though they could harm the kidney, especially in dehydrated or diabetic patients. 

See also  Benefits of Investing in Managed IT Services in the Detroit Area
CT (Computed tomography) scanner in hospital laboratory.
  • Patient Comfort

There are cases of patient discomfort when using MRI scans. Some patients suffer from claustrophobia that being placed inside the magnetic tube may cause panic. The clicking sounds produced by the magnetic field may also cause hearing discomfort to patients. Moreover, MRI exams may usually take a longer time, and the magnetic field may cause heating resulting in patient discomfort. 

On the contrary, CT scans take lesser time and are usually less painful. It’s usually done in open areas; hence the risk of patients suffering from anxiety and panic is avoided. Unlike in MRI scans, patients may not also experience discomfort from the absence of heat-build up due to CT scans faster operation.

  • Accuracy

Both methods have varying accuracies depending on the part of the tissue scanned. However, MRI scans will give detailed information on tissues around the bone and other internal organs that a CT scan may not clearly image. 

After performing a CT scan, doctors may still recommend an MRI scan. This is because there are injuries that a CT may not well mirror. This is usually common in athletes who suffer muscle tear or ligament damage.

However, the correct evaluation of a scanned image will depend on a radiologist. This will help reduce the risks of misdiagnosis.


MRI and CT scans are used by experts and specialists to run a thorough diagnostic test.  Notwithstanding the similarities in their function, MRI and CT scans still differ in terms of imaging, usage, safety, patient comfort, and accuracy. To identify the type of scan needed for a diagnostic test, it’s best to seek for an advice from an expert.

Furthermore, to avoid misdiagnosis, always consult with a specialist such as a radiologist to analyze the images.

The need to examine the internal organs of a human body has increased over the years. While the external part of the body could be easily checked, getting a clear picture of a body’s internal organs is usually complicated. Therefore, modern technology has developed machines, such as radiology technology solutions, to scan internal organs for better and more accurate diagnosis.