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CT Scan vs. MRI — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on November 24, 2023
CT Scan uses X-rays for imaging, while MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves. Both visualize internal body structures.
CT Scan vs. MRI — What's the Difference?

Difference Between CT Scan and MRI

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Key Differences

CT Scan and MRI are both diagnostic imaging tools. While a CT Scan relies on X-rays to produce images, an MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate its images.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023
CT Scan and MRI offer unique benefits. The CT Scan is typically faster and can provide detailed images of bone structures. On the other hand, MRI excels in showcasing soft tissues without radiation exposure.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023
In terms of risks, CT Scan exposes patients to a small amount of radiation, which may not be suitable for everyone. In contrast, MRI doesn't use radiation but can be problematic for those with certain implants or devices due to the magnetic field.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023
The contrast materials used for enhancing images can differ between CT Scan and MRI. Typically, iodine-based agents are used in CT Scans, while gadolinium-based agents are used in MRIs.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023
As for availability and cost, CT Scans are usually more widely available and may cost less. MRIs are generally more expensive, but offer certain imaging advantages over CT Scans.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Principle

Uses X-rays.
Uses magnetic fields and radio waves.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Best Used For

Bone imaging, lung and chest imaging.
Soft tissue, brain, spinal cord, joints.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Radiation Exposure

Yes, exposes patient to radiation.
No radiation exposure.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Duration

Typically faster.
Takes longer, often 30 minutes to an hour.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Cost

Generally less expensive.
Typically more expensive.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Compare with Definitions

CT Scan

A technique to detect diseases or injuries within the body.
The CT Scan helped diagnose early-stage lung cancer in the patient.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

MRI

A non-invasive imaging method providing a view of soft tissues.
The MRI showed a herniated disc in the patient's spine.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

CT Scan

A radiographic method to visualize detailed internal anatomy.
The CT Scan provided a clear image of the brain's ventricles.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

MRI

A diagnostic procedure using magnetic fields to capture detailed images of the body's internal structures.
The doctor used an MRI to identify ligament damage in the patient's knee.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

CT Scan

A diagnostic tool utilizing X-rays to produce cross-sectional images.
The doctor ordered a CT Scan to check for a fracture in the spine.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

MRI

A technique without radiation, making it suitable for various patients.
Since the patient was pregnant, the doctor recommended an MRI instead of a CT Scan.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

CT Scan

A non-invasive procedure capturing images of the body's internal structures.
The CT Scan revealed a tumor in the patient's liver.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

MRI

A procedure often used for its high resolution in soft tissue differentiation.
With the MRI, they could differentiate between benign and malignant tumors in the liver.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

CT Scan

An imaging procedure often used in emergency rooms to quickly assess trauma.
After the car accident, they immediately performed a CT Scan to check for internal injuries.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

MRI

An imaging tool optimal for visualizing the brain, spinal cord, and joints.
The MRI confirmed the presence of multiple sclerosis in the patient's central nervous system.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 10, 2023

MRI

An image produced by magnetic resonance imaging.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

MRI

The act or process of producing such an image.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 06, 2023

MRI

The use of nuclear magnetic resonance of protons to produce proton density images
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Oct 06, 2023

Common Curiosities

Is radiation involved in a CT Scan?

Yes, CT Scans expose patients to a small amount of radiation.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

What is a CT Scan?

A CT Scan is a diagnostic imaging tool that uses X-rays to produce cross-sectional images of the body.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

How does an MRI work?

MRI works using magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of the body's internal structures.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

How long does an MRI procedure last?

MRI procedures can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Is there any radiation in an MRI?

No, MRIs do not use radiation.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Is a contrast agent used in both CT Scan and MRI?

Yes, but the types of agents differ. CT Scans use iodine-based agents, while MRIs use gadolinium-based agents.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Can people with metal implants undergo an MRI?

Not always. Metal implants can be affected by the magnetic field of the MRI, so it's crucial to inform the radiologist beforehand.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Which is more expensive, a CT Scan or an MRI?

Generally, MRIs are more expensive than CT Scans.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Can children undergo both CT Scan and MRI?

Yes, but special considerations are taken for pediatric patients.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Which is better for bone imaging, CT Scan or MRI?

CT Scan is typically preferred for bone imaging.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Which produces clearer images of the brain, CT Scan or MRI?

MRI typically provides more detailed images of the brain compared to a CT Scan.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Which is more suitable for soft tissue imaging, CT Scan or MRI?

MRI is more suited for soft tissue imaging.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

How long does a CT Scan procedure usually take?

CT Scans are relatively quick, often taking only a few minutes.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Can pregnant women have an MRI?

Yes, MRIs do not use radiation, making them safer for pregnant women. However, always inform the doctor or technician.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

Are there any side effects of a CT Scan?

While generally safe, CT Scans expose patients to radiation, which carries a very minimal risk.
Fiza Rafique
Nov 24, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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