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CT scan vs MRI

Medikoe Wellness Expert

Medikoe Wellness Expert

  80 feet road indira nagar, Bengaluru     Aug 2, 2019

   4 min     


What is a CT scan?

A CT scan, commonly known as computed tomography scan is a computer-processed combination of many X-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional (tomographic) images (virtual "slices") of specific areas of a scanned object, allowing the user to see inside the object without cutting. These images provide more detailed information than normal X-ray images. They can show the soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones in various parts of the body. A CT scan may be used to visualize head, shoulders, spine, heart, abdomen, Knee and chest. The term "computed tomography" (CT) is often used to refer to X-ray because it is the most commonly known form. CT produces data that can be manipulated in order to demonstrate various bodily structures based on their ability to absorb the X-ray beam. During a CT scan, you lie in a tunnel-like machine while the inside of the machine rotates and takes a series of X-rays from different angles. CT scans are used in hospitals worldwide. A CT scanner emits a series of narrow beams through the human body as it moves through an arc. This data is transmitted to a computer, which builds up a 3-D cross-sectional picture of the part of the body and displays it on the screen. 

CT is a useful tool for assisting diagnosis in medicine, but it is a source of ionizing radiation, and it can potentially cause cancer. A CT scan has many uses, but it's particularly well-suited to quickly examine people who may have internal injuries from car accidents or other types of trauma. A CT scan can be used to visualize nearly all parts of the body and is used to diagnose disease or injury as well as to plan medical, surgical or radiation treatment.  CT scanners have vastly improved patient comfort because a scan can be done quickly.  A head or brain CT is used to evaluate the various structures of the brain to look for a mass, stroke, area of bleeding, or blood vessel abnormality. It is also sometimes used to look at the skull. CT of the chest is frequently used to further study an abnormality on a plain chest X-ray. It is also often used to look for enlarged lymph nodes.

How does a CT scan works?

They use a narrow X-ray beam that circles around one part of your body. This provides a series of images from many different angles. A computer uses this information to create a cross-sectional picture. Like one piece in a loaf of bread, this two-dimensional (2D) scan shows a “slice” of the inside of your body.This process is repeated to produce a number of slices. The computer stacks these scans one on top of the other to create a detailed image of your organs, bones, or blood vessels. For example, a surgeon may use this type of scan to look at all sides of a tumor to prepare for an operation.

What is a MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures inside your body. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a common procedure around the world. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body. MRI scanning is a non-invasive and painless procedure. The scanner itself typically resembles a large tube with a table in the middle, allowing the patient to slide in. 

The following are examples in which an MRI scanner would be used:

  • Anomalies of the brain and spinal cord

  • Tumors, cysts, and other anomalies in various parts of the body

  • Breast cancer screening for women who face a high risk of breast cancer

  • Injuries or abnormalities of the joints, such as the back and knee

  • Certain types of heart problems

  • Diseases of the liver and other abdominal organs

  • The evaluation of pelvic pain in women, with causes including fibroids and endometriosis

  • Suspected uterine anomalies in women undergoing evaluation for infertility

The main differences between CT and MRI are:

  • A CT scan uses X-rays, but an MRI uses magnets and radio waves.

  • Unlike an MRI, a CT scan does not show tendons and ligaments.

  • MRI is better for examining the spinal cord.

  • A CT scan is better suited to cancer, pneumonia, abnormal chest x-rays, bleeding in the brain, especially after an injury.

  • A brain tumor is more clearly visible on MRI.

  • A CT scan shows organ tear and organ injury more quickly, so it may be more suitable for trauma cases.

  • Broken bones and vertebrae are more clearly visible on a CT scan.

  • CT scans provide a better image of the lungs and organs in the chest cavity between the lungs.

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