What is the Difference Between a CT Scan and an MRI?

CT Scan vs. MRI

It is easy to get a CT Scan and MRI confused, but from a patient’s perspective, there is a significant difference! Here is a comparison of a CT Scan Vs. an MRI so you know what to expect from both imaging exams.

What is a CT Scan?

A CT Scan is the same thing as a CAT Scan. This type of scan is simply an X-Ray Machine attached to a computer. It uses radiation to take clear images of sections of the body. It is typically quick with low levels of discomfort.

CT Scans are Used For:

•          Pinpointing injuries

•          Scanning the chest and lung

•          Detecting cancer in the body

•          Getting a picture of the soft tissue, blood vessels and bone all together

What is an MRI?

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan uses magnet fields and radio frequencies to create detailed images of internal structures like bones, soft tissues, organs, and more. A traditional MRI has a tunnel that the patient enters the machine through, but newer options, like the Open MRI, use a magnet top and bottom and are open on all four sides (great for patients wtih claustrophobia).

MRI Scans are Used For:

•          Scanning without use of radiation

•          Showing soft tissue and organs

•          Imaging tissue differences

CT Scan Vs. MRI

The biggest differences between an MRI and a CT Scan is the use of radiation and a magnetic field. An MRI does not use radiation, and a CT Scan does not use a magnet. Meaning, one is safer than the other for some patients. Anyone with metal in their body (pacemaker, stent, implant etc.) need to ensure the material is MRI safe, for those sensitive to radiation, a CT scan is not a good option.

In addition, a CT scan usually takes about 15 minutes and is best for looking at organs and bone fractures, while an MRI is around 30-45 minutes and is best for looking at soft tissue.

Alliance MRI is Here to Help

The team at Alliance MRI is happy to discuss the right exam for your situation with you and your doctor. Our techs are there for you during the process to ease any concerns and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our locations.