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CT Vs MRI Scans A comparison

CT Scan and MRI Scan are often confused to each other by many. In actual they both are different in many ways. This attempt of ours is to help you understand how these two types of body scans are different; so that you can nod you head to what your radiologist is saying about them with confidence. Here we go!

Definitions of CT Scan & MRI Scan

CT (Computed Tomography) Scan (sometimes also called as CAT Scan) is a type of test conducted to view the cross-sectional images of tissues in the body. A CT Scan uses X-ray beams and computer imaging in order to take pictures of the body tissues. A CT scan has the ability to provide detailed imaging at different levels of density and tissues inside a solid organ. 

On the other hand, MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan uses powerful magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to generate detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bone and other internal body components. When body tissues are subjected to magnetic field, along with RF pulse, water molecules in these tissues align differently providing two-dimensional distinct images through any axis.

Differences – CT Scan Vs MRI Scan

Mode of Operation – CT Scanner beams X-rays onto the tissues for imaging, while an MRI Scanner uses magnetic field with RF pulses to reconstruct the tissues on a 2 D plane. For this reason, CT scan can pose risk of irradiation. 

Cost – Getting an MRI scan is costlier in comparison with CT scan. A MRI scan can cost a patient from INR 2500 to 30000 depending on the body part that needs it, while costs between INR 3000 to INR 5000 at max. 

Time for Imaging – A CT scan takes less than 5 minutes for imaging a body part while a MRI can take upto 30 minutes. For this reason, CT scan is widely used in emergency rooms. 

Application – CT scan is ideal for imaging bone injuries,lung and chest imaging, cancer detection and MRI scan is used majorly in evaluation of soft tissues such as tumours, ligaments, tendon etc. 

Detailing of Images – CT scan is commonly used, for it provides detailed images of both soft and bone tissues at the same time. On the other hand, MRI scan image detailing are restricted to only soft tissues. However, experts say that differences between normal and abnormal tissue are clearer on a MRI image in comparison with a CT image. 

Patient Comfort – CT Scanners are simple and requires less duration of patient exposure, hence offers less discomfort to patients. On the contrary, MRI requires patient to be inside the scanner for a very long duration, causing tiredness and sometimes claustrophobia in patients. Additionally, CT scans are not recommended for pregnant patients due its release of ionizing radiation, while MRI scans are not advised for patients with metal implants such as - pacemakers, aneurysm clips, heart valves, vascular stents and likes. 

MRI Scanner can be more discomforting for the patient since it is nosier than the X-ray (radiation) based CT scanner. 

Concluding Words…

Be it the CT or the MRI, they are both equally necessary in the medicine-world for the distinct and variety of applications they have to offer to physicians. Knowing their differences is always an added advantage for you are better prepared for what is coming your way. 

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