Diagnostic imaging is a technique of taking images of the different internal parts of the body for medical purposes. It can be done for diagnosing or examining a certain disease. MRI and CT-Scan are the two common types of medical imaging to study the brain. While both have similar functions, it is important to know what distinguishes one from the other.
MRI or CT-Scan
While both types of diagnostic imaging are used to examine the brain, the use of either one depends on the purpose. Each procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. One may be better to get a quick scan while the other is better in examining a specific part of the head. Also, the age of the patient is a factor in determining which medical imaging technique to perform. In any case, the doctor will determine which test the patient will need. Sometimes, the doctor will order both.
Why the CT-Scan?
The CT-Scan or CAT Scan stands for Computed Tomography. It is a diagnostic imaging process that gets images faster, which makes it the go to choice for trauma and neurological emergencies. It is considerably cheaper. CT-Scan is also less sensitive to patient movement as it can be performed quickly; this is advantageous for patients that are claustrophobic.
The CT-Scan evaluates the cortical bone, detects calcification and can detect metal foreign objects in the body. There’s no risk involved even if the patient has an implanted medical device like nerve stimulators and pacemakers.
CT Scans are best used with small bone structures, brain trauma, pelvis, chest, spinal column and the abdomen. Sometimes, the patient is injected with barium sulfate to assist in making certain parts of the body appear clearer in the image scan.
Why the MRI?
MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a diagnostic imaging process that doesn’t use ionizing radiation. It is highly preferred to be used on children and patients that need to undergo a number of imaging exams. MRI is better for evaluating soft tissue contrast and determining brain abnormalities. Further, it evaluates structures that are not so clear in a CAT Scan due to the bone artifacts. This can be done without physically moving the patient.
The MRI is best used to assess torn rotator cuffs, torn knee cartilage, torn ligaments, hip problems and herniated disks. This procedure can take 30 to 90 minutes.
Only a doctor can determine which medical imaging process will best suit the condition of the patient. Hospitals and clinics will always require a written order from the doctor before approving the procedure to be performed.
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