Since both MRIs and CT scans produce diagnostic images, people often use the two terms interchangeably. However, each captures detailed images differently. MRIs, for example, rely on radio waves to penetrate tissue, while CT scans use X-rays. Here are a few other major differences between these two screening tests.
What Does an MRI Capture?
MRI is short for magnetic resonance imaging. This name comes from the fact that MRIs use magnetic fields coupled with radio waves to produce images of various structures inside the body—including organs, cartilage, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This test is especially adept at capturing soft tissue like those that make up the brain and spinal cord. Physicians then use these images to diagnose everything from tumors to heart problems. The MRI procedure is safe for most people, and it is usually preferred over CT scans because it does not require radiation. However, because of the magnetic field it emits, those with metal inside their bodies—like pacemakers or cochlear implants, for example—should not undergo this test.
What Does a CT Scan Capture?
The CT in CT scan is short for computerized tomography. This procedure uses small doses of radiation to produce images of blood vessels, soft tissue, and bone. While MRIs can also capture blood vessels and soft tissue, CT scans produce much more detailed images of bone. For this reason, CT scans are typically ordered over MRIs when a provider wants to examine a patient’s skull or spine. Physicians can use the images resulting from a CT scan to diagnose various conditions throughout the rest of the body as well—including fractures, internal bleeding, and even cancer.
If you or someone in your family needs diagnostic imaging, turn to Kenai Peninsula Imaging Center. This independently owned practice is proud to serve patients throughout Soldotna, AK, and the surrounding areas. Since undergoing a diagnostic imaging procedure can be stressful, their friendly staff strives to foster a warm and welcoming environment that puts patients at ease from the moment they enter the office. And, because they're not operating under a bustling hospital, they can give every patient personalized service. To schedule an MRI or CT scan, call (907) 335-4674 or reach out online.