Contributed by: Healthians Team


To assist in the diagnosis of a wide variety of medical disorders, doctors request MRI or CT scans. Despite having different means of producing pictures, both types of scans have comparable applications. An MRI scan employs radio waves and powerful magnetic fields, whereas a CT scan uses X-rays.

Although MRI scans give higher detailed pictures, CT scans are more widely used and less costly.

In this article, we examine the differences between MRI and CT scans and their uses, techniques, and safety.

What is an MRI scan?

MRI use radio waves and magnets to examine inside body organs.

They are regularly used to determine issues with your:

  • Joints  
  • Brain 
  • Wrists
  • Ankles 
  • Breasts
  • Vessels in the heart

Your body’s fat and water molecules reflect radio waves and a continuous magnetic field. A receiver within the device receives radio waves, which are then converted into a picture of the body that may be used to identify problems.

The MRI machine is a noisy one. Usually, earplugs or headphones will be provided to make the noise more tolerable.

Additionally, you will be required to remain still throughout the MRI.

What is a CT scan?

A big X-ray machine is used for a CT scan, a type of X-raying. CAT scans are another name for CT scans.

Usually, a CT scan is used for:

  • Tumours 
  • Bone fractures
  • Intestinal bleeding discovered via cancer monitoring

You’ll be asked to lie down on a table for the CT scan. After that, the table glides through the CT scan while cross-sectional images of your inside organs are taken.

CT scans vs. MRI

MRIs are less common than CT scans, which are also frequently less costly.

However, MRIs are regarded as having a better picture resolution than CT scans. The biggest distinction is that MRIs don’t use X-rays whereas CT scans do.

The risks of MRI and CT scans include other variations:


When utilised, MRIs and CT scan both carry some risk. The dangers depend on the kind of imaging that is done and how it is done.

CT scan risks include:

  • Injury to unborn children
  • A very little dose of radiation 
  • Usage of dye may  harm

MRI risks include:

  • Magnetic reactions to metals are a possibility, and the machine’s loud sounds might affect your hearing ability little bit
  • Body temperature rising during lengthy MRIs
  • Claustrophobia

Before having an MRI, you should talk to your doctor if you have any implants, such as:

  • Artificial joints, 
  • Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
  • Pacemakers, and 
  • Eye implants

Choosing between an MRI and CT scan

Your doctor will probably advise you whether you should obtain an MRI or CT scan based on your symptoms.

An MRI is frequently recommended by your doctor if you require a more precise picture of your organs, ligaments, or soft tissue.

These instances include:

  • Slipped discs
  • Soft tissue injuries 
  • Torn ligaments

A CT scan is frequently advised if you require general imaging of a region, such as your internal organs, or if you have suffered a fracture or head trauma.

Final thoughts 

MRI and CT scans are both relatively low-risk procedures. Both provide crucial details that can assist your doctor in correctly diagnosing particular diseases.

Internal body structures can be seen with MRIs and CT scans. A CT scan, on the other hand, is quicker and may provide images of the skeletal system, tissues, and organs.

An MRI is very sharp at taking pictures that aid medical professionals in figuring out whether there are abnormal tissues inside the body. MRIs produce pictures with higher fine detail.

Your doctor will probably let you know which one they advise. To ensure that you are satisfied with the decision your doctor recommends, be sure to ask questions and address any concerns with them.

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