Blog 08 October 2021

These are the Differences between CT Scan and MRI, Check Out the Explanation from the BMHS Radiology Unit

What is the difference between CT Scan and MRI? Both CT Scan and MRI are performed in the medical field to produce images of the inside of the body, such as organs, bones, and joints. Not a few people think the two are the same. In fact, in terms of methods and objectives are different.

Computerized tomography or better known as CT Scan is a scanning procedure that uses X-rays or X-ray technology and special computer systems. This method aims to determine the conditions in the body from various cuts and angles. Meanwhile, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a scanning procedure that uses radio wave energy and magnetic fields. This method aims to display the structure of organs in the body.

In use, CT Scan and MRI are quite similar. The patient also has to lie down to be scanned, just using a different type of instrument. Let's find out more about the difference between CT Scan and MRI.


Know the Difference between CT Scan and MRI

The main difference between these two methods is the use of technology. A CT scan uses X-rays, while an MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field. If considered from the point of view, a CT scan is usually performed for medical examinations related to fractures, cancer, tumors, and internal bleeding. Meanwhile, MRI is performed for medical examinations related to objects in the body, such as diagnosing joints, breasts, heart, brain, wrists or feet, and blood vessels.

During a CT scan, the patient will lie down in an X-ray machine to be scanned. When performing an MRI, the patient lies in a machine that produces a constant magnetic field. This machine also emits radio waves to bounce off fat cells in the body and water molecules. Both have different levels of risk, here are some of them.

CT Scan Risks

  1. Very small radiation dose
  2. Harm the unborn fetus
  3. For some people, the use of contrast agents or dyes can cause allergic reactions and even health problems. To obtain clearer visuals, doctors use this substance in certain situations. This substance is inserted into the patient's body through several ways, such as by mouth, injection into a vein in the arm, and rectum.

MRI Risks

  1. The use of magnets causes the possibility of reactions to metals
  2. Possible increased body temperature during MRI
  3. The machine makes a loud enough noise that it can cause hearing problems
  4. Claustrophobia (phobia or fear of confined and closed spaces)


Use of Radiation CT Scan and MRI

The difference between a CT scan and an MRI can also be seen from the radiation. CT Scan uses ionizing radiation so that it can have an effect on biological tissue. However, this method has a lower risk of cancer due to minimal radiation. Even so, pregnant women, especially those in the first trimester, are not allowed to perform a CT Scan scan procedure because it is feared that it can have an impact on the fetus. Pregnant women should also avoid having an MRI.

Meanwhile, MRI does not use radiation because it utilizes a strong magnetic field technology. Prior to performing an MRI, the patient must report a detailed medical history, such as the use of cochlear implants, insulin pumps, pacemakers, and others. When carrying out this scanning procedure, the MRI will produce a sound loud enough that the patient will usually be put on earmuffs or headphones to minimize noise so as not to disturb the ear.

In addition, MRI is not suitable for patients who have claustrophobia, which is a phobia or fear of narrow and closed spaces. However, currently an open MRI has been developed as a solution to this risk.

What about the cost? Scans using the MRI method are more expensive than CT. This is because MRI scans are claimed to be safer than the use of X-rays in computerized tomography scanning. It's easy, isn't it, knowing the difference between a CT Scan and an MRI?


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