CT Scan vs MRI Scan: What’s the Difference?

CT Scan vs MRI Scan: What’s the Difference?
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If you have been experiencing pain in your body, consider a medical scan so the doctor can look at it.

There are two main types of scanners that you might discuss with your doctor: a CT scan and an MRI scan.

Which one is right for you?

If you want to know the difference between a CT scan vs MRI, read on. We are going to look at the differences between these two types of scans and explain which one is better for your particular issue.


CT scans use a series of X-ray beams that pass through the body from different angles. These X-rays are detected by detectors on the other side of the body, creating a series of two-dimensional images. These images are then processed by a computer to generate detailed cross-sectional views of the body.

MRI scans, on the other hand, utilize a powerful magnetic field and radio waves. When a patient is placed inside the MRI machine, the hydrogen atoms in their body align with the magnetic field.

The radio waves are then applied, causing the hydrogen atoms to emit signals captured by specialized detectors. These signals are processed by a computer to create detailed three-dimensional images of the body’s internal structures.

Image Quality

CT and MRI scans provide medical imaging of the body, but they excel at visualizing different types of tissues. CT scans are particularly useful for visualizing bone and dense structures, making them ideal for detecting fractures, tumors or identifying conditions in the chest or abdomen.

MRI scans, offered by the top radiology at Longhorn Imaging, excel at differentiating between soft tissues. They are especially useful in visualizing the brain, spinal cord, joints, and pelvic organs. They also evaluate the brain, spinal cord, joints, and pelvic organs.

Radiation Exposure

CT scans involve X-rays, which are a form of ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation can potentially damage cells and DNA, and repeated exposure can increase the risk of developing cancer. While the radiation doses from CT scans are generally considered safe, efforts are made to minimize unnecessary exposure, especially in sensitive populations such as children and pregnant women

MRI scans do not use ionizing radiation at all. Instead, they rely on the interaction between magnetic fields and radio waves, making MRI scans a safer option regarding radiation exposure.

Contrast Agents

Both CT and MRI scans can be enhanced with contrast agents to improve the visualization of certain structures or abnormalities. CT scans typically use iodine-based contrast agents injected into the bloodstream.

MRI scans use gadolinium-based contrast agents, which are also injected intravenously. However, MRI scans can also be performed without contrast if necessary.

Metal Artifacts

CT scans are less affected by metal implants or objects in the body, such as surgical clips or pacemakers. However, MRI scans can be challenging in these cases because the strong magnetic field can cause artifacts or interfere with the functioning of metal objects.

Unlocking the Mysteries Between CT Scan vs MRI Scan

A CT scan vs MRI provides important diagnostic information for healthcare providers to interpret and use in developing a personalized treatment plan for each patient.

They have different strengths and limitations, so it’s important to speak to your physician to determine which test is right for you. Learn more by requesting an appointment today!

We hope this article was useful to you. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check out our blog for more great articles.

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