CT Scan vs. MRI: What is the Difference?

December 30, 2020

ct scanWhether you suffer an injury or unexplained medical symptoms, imaging tests are often a key part of the diagnostic process. These tests allow physicians to see what’s going on inside your body, and when combined with an evaluation of symptoms, give them a more complete picture of your health. However, not all of these imaging tests are created equal. Each uses its own specific processes which serve different functions. Here, we’ll take a look at two commonly confused imaging tests: CT scans and MRIs.

What is a CT Scan Used for?

CT stands for computed tomography. Some may also refer to them as CAT scans. This test uses x-ray technology, but it is much more sophisticated than typical x-ray imaging. During the procedure, you will lie down on a table that moves into the CT machine. It will then take cross-sectional images of your body, and transfer these into full, 360-degree views on a computer. CT scans are very quick tests that can reveal a lot about what’s going on inside. They may be used to diagnose or assess condition such as:

  • Bone fractures
  • Tumors
  • Organ injury and internal bleeding
  • Blood clots

What is an MRI Used for?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, sends radio waves through the body with the use of a powerful magnet. During the test, patients must lie very still and will need to wear headphones or earplugs to block the loud sounds the machine makes. As the patient enters the MRI machine, the radio waves bounce off of fat and water molecules and return highly detailed images of various parts of the body. This test can be used to clearly visualize structures such as soft tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. Some conditions which may warrant the use of an MRI include:

  • Spinal injuries
  • Brain injuries
  • Tears in tendons, ligaments, muscles or cartilage
  • Compressed nerves
  • Joint inflammation

Regardless of which type of imaging is best in your case, Lane Regional Medical Center can help you get the tests you need. From CT scans to MRIs and many others in between, our team has the tools needed to help keep you healthy and active. To learn more about all imaging services at Lane, click below.

Learn More About Imaging at Lane