CTscan vs. MRI

CTscan vs. MRI

A CT scan and an MRI are both medical tests that allow physicians to see inside the body.

A CT scan, or computerized axial tomography (also known as CAT scan), is a medical procedure that uses radiation to see inside the body. CT scans are best for viewing bone injuries, diagnosing lung and chest problems, and detecting cancer. They are used widely in emergency rooms because they are fairly quick (about 5 minutes).

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a medical procedure that uses magnetic and radio waves to see inside the body. It is best for viewing soft tissue in ligament and tendon injuries as well as the brain and spinal cord. The procedure can take 30 minutes or more.

Both procedures appear similar from a patient's perspective - a flat moving table that slides into a tube-shaped machine. A CT scan uses x-ray technology whereas an MRI uses magnetic and radio waves. MRIs tend to be more expensive than CT scans. Patients with metal implants or pacemakers usually cannot undergo an MRI due to the magnetic effect on the metal.

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