MRI vs CT: What’s The Difference?

Picture1Your doctor informs you that you need an MRI or CT scan.  We’re here to assure you that CT’s and MRI are both painless procedures with important uses. In addition, huge advances have been made so it’s much easier now to have these scans if you have a tendency to be claustrophobic. Let’s take a closer look at each scan to see which is best for you and your imaging needs.

What is an MRI?

MRI stands for “magnetic resonance imaging.” It’s a type of scan that can produce a detailed snapshot of parts of the body, including the brain. It’s an imaging technique—radiation isn’t used and there are no known side effects or risks linked with having an MRI scan, once the Radiographer has checked the patient over for metal.

An MRI scan is used to determine or identify the following:

  • Causes of pelvic pain in women
  • Status of brain conditions
  • Potential uterine abnormalities in women with infertility issues
  • Cysts, tumors other abnormalities in various parts of the body
  • Abnormalities of the joints
  • Injuries or back pain
  • Certain kinds of heart problems
  • Diseases of abdominal organs
  • Abnormalities of the spinal cord and the brain

While MRI’s are typically a longer procedure than a CT scan, your doctor may have requested that you have a CT scan over an MRI depending on your needs. Just like the MRI, it’s non-invasive and it’s accurate. For those reasons, it can reveal internal injuries and bleed quickly enough to help save lives.

A CT scan stands for  “computerized tomography”(CT) since it uses a computer that takes data from several X-ray images of structures inside your body. After converting them into pictures on a monitor, tomography generates a two-dimensional image of a section or slice through a three-dimensional object.

Unlike an X-ray machine that sends just one radiation beam, a CT scan emits a series of narrow beams through the body as it moves through an arc. The final image is a lot more detailed than an X-ray image because, inside the scanner, there’s an X-ray detector, which can see hundreds of different levels of density and tissues inside a solid organ. The data is transferred to a computer, which builds up a 3D cross-sectional picture of the part of the body and bam, it’s shown on the screen. Sometimes a contrast dye is used. The whole process usually lasts about 5 – 20 minutes.

Oncologists and Radiologists use the CT scan to:

  • Assist in planning for, and to assess, the results of surgery, such as organ

transplants or gastric bypass

  • Guide minimally invasive tumor treatments, biopsies, abscess drainages and

minimally invasive tumor treatments

  • Identifies injuries due to trauma to the heart, liver, kidneys, bowel, lungs and


  • Administer and plan radiation treatments for tumors and monitor reaction to


  • Measures bone mineral density for the detection of osteoporosis


While both procedures have the benefits, your area of concern will determine if CT or MRI is best for you. If your doctor recommends an MRI, Open MRI of Pueblo can provide you with the superior imaging quality and care tailored to your needs.

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