Posted on

How is a CT Scan Different From an MRI?

When medical professionals are making a diagnosis, they need to use the right tools. At Great Lakes Imaging, we know that there are a few ways to check for health problems or monitor the progress of certain diseases, but some types of medical imaging technology are more suited to different applications.

For example, MRIs and CT scans seem awfully similar at first glance, but there are key differences between them that doctors need to understand so that they use the right diagnostic tools for the job.

How to Differentiate Between an MRI and CT Scan

Both of these imaging methods are used to scan the body, but they operate in different ways. An MRI uses a powerful magnet to pass radio waves through the body, which then reacts to those waves and allows the MRI to create an incredibly detailed image. An image from an MRI can make it easy to see the soft tissues, blood vessels, nerves, and other structures inside of the body.

A CT scan, also known as a computed tomography scan, uses radiation much like an X-ray, but it offers a more detailed look at your body than an X-ray would. It is a relatively quick procedure and not as inexpensive to run as an MRI would be.

When You Need to Use an MRI vs. a CT Scan

So both of these methods create detailed images of the body, but they still have different applications.

When to Use an MRI

A doctor will suggest using an MRI when an issue could be hard to spot on an X-ray. An MRI can be used to see injuries like:

  • A torn meniscus
  • ACL injury
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Ruptured tendons      

An MRI can also track some forms of cancer, like prostate cancer and some types of liver cancer. An MRI can show if they have metastasized to the brain or bones. This would be a more difficult diagnosis to make if a CT scan was used since such a problem might be harder to spot on the image it produces.

When to Use a CT Scan

A CT scan still has many uses though, especially because there are some patients who cannot safely be subjected to an MRI. This is due to the powerful magnet used in this imaging method. Many patients with metal implants or implanted medical devices, like pacemakers, could be at risk if they are put in an MRI machine.

A computed tomography scan is also frequently used after accidents and trauma to look for issues like:

  • Blood clots
  • Bone fractures
  • Internal bleeding

A CT scan can also be used to look for tumors and diagnose some types of cancer. The image is detailed enough to see what stage the cancer has reached and if it has spread. It can also be used to evaluate cancer treatment progress.

Your Imaging Expert Serving the Detroit Area

If you want to learn more about the imaging technology and other medical products that we offer, visit our website. Great Lakes Imaging offers new medical equipment, pre-owned equipment, and repair services that our customers can rely on.