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The difference between an MRI and CT scan

What are MRIs?

An MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce detailed images of your body. The strongest and largest magnet is found in an MRI exam room. The MRIs are most popular for their ability to take images of the brain and spinal cord without using x-rays (which could be harmful). However, MRIs can help diagnose many conditions involving almost any organ system.

The MRI machine creates a magnetic force field around the area you’re being scanned which allows it to pick up on the tissue and fluids in your body. Radio waves are transmitted from the MRI machine to a receiver in the device which is translated into an image of the body that can be used to diagnose issues. This magnetic force field stops anything metallic from entering the machine, including jewellery.

MRI is typically used for:

  • joints
  • brain
  • wrists
  • ankles
  • breasts
  • heart
  • blood vessels

What is CT Scan?

A CT scan (also called a CAT scan) uses computers and rotating X-ray machines to create cross-sectional images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed pictures of soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones. They are different than other imaging tests in that the images you get are made from computer calculations, not photographs. The picture provides more information than an ordinary X ray. This can help your doctor find out if there are any abnormalities in your brain, spinal cord, blood vessels, or heart.

A CT scan is typically used for:

  • Bone fractures
  • Tumors
  • Cancer monitoring
  • Finding internal bleeding

Risk

Both CT scans and MRIs pose some risks when used. The risks are based on the type of imaging as well as how the imaging is performed.

CT scan risks include:

  • harm to unborn babies
  • a very small dose of radiation
  • a potential reaction to the use of dyes

MRI risks include:

possible reactions to metals due to magnets

loud noises from the machine causing hearing issues

increase in body temperature during long MRIs

An MRI is highly adept at capturing images that help doctors determine if there are abnormal tissues within the body. MRIs are more detailed in their images. In order to produce such detailed images.

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