MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, uses radio wavesand magnets to create a cross sectional image of your body. It is a harmless, painless, non-invasive procedure that provides detailed images of area that can help your health care provider determine an effective course of treatment.
There are no health risks associated with getting an MRI, and unlike a CT scan, an MRI does not expose the patient to radiation. The MRI typically has a higher degree of detail in the soft tissue than a CT scan and is used for:
Spinal cord injury
The entire process usually takes about 30 minutes, and anyone who can lie still can receive an MRI scan. There will be a loud knocking noise during the process, but earplugs make the procedure less noisy, and special mirrored glasses allow the patient to see outside the scanner into the exam room.
Newer machines allow patients who might feel claustrophobic to sit in an Open Upright MRI scanner. Although this type of scan may take a little longer, it can allow the technician to scan in different positions.
After the MRI scan, a radiologist will interpret the results and send the results to your physician, who will then discuss the results with you privately.
CT, or computed tomography, is the combined use of X-rays with a computer and scanner in order to create a clear, detailed cross sectional mage of the body. It is especially effective for conditions involving the bones.
CT scans are used primarily for:
Ear and auditory canal imaging
During the scan the patient lies on a table that slides into a large, circular opening in the scanner. The patient will hold their breath for up to 30 seconds while the images are recorded. For some CT scans, you may be asked to drink a special barium contrast liquid, or have an iodinated contrast injection that will highlight areas of the body to allow the scan to pick up images more clearly.
Because the CT scan uses X-rays to create a "slice" of a person, it can be used safely by patients with pacemakers and other metal implants, while an MRI cannot be performed on these patients.
Most CT scans take about 5 minutes, but in some cases can take up to an hour.