What Is The Difference Between An MRI And A CT Scan?

CT Scan vs. MRI: Discover the Similarities and the Key Differences between CT Scan and MRI, which is better and safer, as well as what they can detect.
CT Scan vs. MRI: What’s The Difference?

CT scan uses radiation, while MRI uses magnetic pulses to capture images of your organs. To know what’s the difference between a CT scan and an MRI scan, you must know the result you want to achieve from the imaging techniques. MRI scans are more detailed as they can also display the images of soft tissues of your internal organs.

Defining CT Scan Vs. MRI For Better Understanding

What Is A CT Scan?

Computerized Tomography (CT) scan utilized X-rays for capturing internal body images.

What Is MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan utilizes powerful radio waves and magnets for capturing internal body images.

Observing CAT Scan vs. MRI Similarities

  • Both CT scan and MRI are used to observe your inner body organs.
  • They help in detecting serious illnesses like tumors.
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Comparing CT vs. MRI Scan Key Differences

CT Scan vs. MRI Brain

In the case of trauma patients, a quick brain scan is needed, hence a CT scan would be the best option. But it might not map images of every soft tissue and the ones hidden behind complex bone structures. This is a major difference in CT scan vs. MRI of brain exploration. But in the case of patients with nerve stimulators or ferromagnetic vascular clips, CT scan wins in CT Scan vs. MRI for brain decision.

Is MRI Safer Than A CT Scan?

It is crucial to evaluate CT versus MRI scan safety. There are no known safety threats posed by an MRI scan. Though, they can feel louder to a few or make others feel claustrophobic. Additionally, few people with medical complexities should avoid an MRI like those with metallic ear implants or artificial heart valves.

CT Scan vs. MRI Cost Difference

It is essential to mention the difference between a CAT scan and an MRI scan’s cost. Usually, an MRI is costlier than a CT scan.

CT Scan And MRI Difference In Scope

What Can CT Scans Detect?

CT scans can detect complex joint and bone problems easily with the help of X rays. Tumors and internal injuries are also detected better with a CT scan.

What Does An MRI Offer That A CT Scan Doesn’t?

An MRI is adept at capturing the details of the problem like an image of the soft tissues or ligaments, small lesions, or breast tumors. 

Which Is Better, A CT Scan Or MRI?

It depends on individual circumstances. For more detailed imaging of the internal body structures, MRI is the best option, but it is a lengthy procedure, whereas a CT scan maps images of the internal organs with the help of X rays and are less accurate than MRI. But CT scans are much faster. Additionally, those still unclear on CT scan vs. MRI for cancer discussion, a CT scan exposes you to cancer-causing ionizing radiation, whereas an MRI doesn’t.

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In What Circumstances Is An MRI Required After Performing A CT Scan?

The major difference between MRI and CT scan is in the outcome. If the doctor doubts that a CT scan has not revealed the full information of a particular body organ, he might advise you to get an MRI done to have better imaging of the concerned body part. Accuracy has been the most significant point of contemplation in CAT scan versus MRI.

Can An MRI Detect Cancer?

Yes, an MRI can detect cancer. It is used to know if a tumor is cancerous or not.

Why Would A Doctor Order A CT Scan?

A doctor might order a CT scan to detect tumors, clots, or infections. A CT scan also diagnoses bone and muscle disorders well. He can also order a CT scan to monitor diseases like cancer or to guide procedures like radiation therapy.

How Long Is A CT Scan?

The time of a CT scan depends on the diagnostic needs of an individual. Ideally, it can take anywhere between a few minutes to half an hour, including the preparation time. 

How Bad Is A CT Scan For You?

You are exposed to concentrated ionizing radiation during a CT scan, though for a brief period. These rays are known to cause damage to the DNA and are cancerous. But the risk of someone contracting a fatal cancer is very minimal, which is about 1 in every 2000.

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Is MRI Better Than A CT Scan?

MRI is better than a CT scan only because it produces better images of the body organs that help in diagnosing a problem accurately. Say, from CT scan vs. MRI, back pain like subtle pains can only be treated by having detailed imaging of each tissue, which is possible by MRI alone. Also, it does not expose the patient to harmful radiation. CT scans are also not advised for pregnant women.

How Do I Prepare For A CT Scan?

You can eat or drink before your CT scan if it is without contrast dye. But you will be strictly asked to fast 3-4 hours before your CT scan if the doctor has ordered you a CT scan with contrast dye. Additionally, right before the scan, you will be asked to remove all the metal jewelry or items from the targeted area as they might interfere in the final imaging results.

Observing MRI And CT Scan Difference At A Glance

BasisCT scanMRI
Technique impliedIt uses X-ray.It uses radio waves and magnets.
CostIt is cheap.It is costly.
DetailingIt is less detailed.It is more detailed.
Imaging soft tissuesIt cannot provide images of soft tissues.It can provide images of soft tissues.
SpeedIt is quick.It takes time.
LimitationIt is not for patients with metal implants.It is not for patients with ferromagnetic vascular clips, nerve stimulators, and other such medical implants.

Comparison Chart

CT Scan vs. MRI: Discover the Similarities and the Key Differences between CT Scan and MRI, which is better and safer, as well as what they can detect.

Comparison Video

What’s the Difference Between an MRI and a CT?

Choosing Between CT Scan Versus MRI

The key difference between CT and MRI scan lies in the images they can capture. Choosing an MRI or CT scan for your specific case depends on the urgency of the situation, patient’s age, and the body part to be examined. The case history of the patient is also considered to avoid any complications.


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Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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