MRI vs. CT – What You Need to Know

If you are in need of medical imaging in NJ, the difference between two common imagining types, the MRI and shutterstock_187284635CT scans, might be a bit confusing. Read on to discover what the difference between the two is and when each is appropriate.

What They Are and How They Work

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI uses radio frequency pulses and strong magnetic fields to produce detailed images of the body’s internal structures such as organs, soft tissues, and bones. While MRIs can be noisy and take longer than other types of scans, they have the benefit of not using any radiation.

CT stands for computed tomography and works by sending X-rays through the body. The doses are low, the scans are quick, and the images are extremely detailed. CT scans can produce images of different density levels and tissues inside a solid organ as well as provide extremely detailed information about various systems within the body such as the brain and its vessels, the skeletal system, reproductive system, and gastrointestinal tract.

When You Need Them

MRIs can reveal the differences between normal and abnormal tissues much more clearly than CT scans. MRIs are also generally the best choice when it comes to viewing tendons, ligaments, and the spinal cord.

On the other hand, a doctor will ask for a CT scan in order to look for tumors, blood clots, or fractures, and to diagnose a bone or muscle disorder. Additionally, CTs are better at “seeing” bleeding in the brain, especially as a result of injury. Speaking of injuries, CT scans show spinal damage and broken bones, organ tear and damage, and spinal damage more clearly than an MRI so doctors will often order CT scans for accident victims.

In either case, the procedures are safe, painless, and non-invasive. If you have any questions about either scan, be sure to speak with your doctor.