Difference Between CT and MRI (With Table)

CT vs MRI

Technology has advanced across industries and greatly helped mankind. Although, the advantages of technology are difficult to weigh across different industries, but there is one sector that got tremendously served i.e. Healthcare or Medical.

Examination of many critical illnesses has become very easy with the help of advanced diagnostic procedures; two of them are CT and MRI that are used to capture detailed images of the internal body.

CT (Computed Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan help to diagnose a broad range of critical medical conditions.

Both types of scans have similar applications but there is a significant difference between CT and MRI as they provide images in separate ways. X-rays are used in CT scans, whereas strong magnetic fields & radio waves are used in MRI scans.

In the CT scan, X-rays are used that are radioactive to scan the individual part of the body and captures the images in the form of slices. It is widely used to scan the chest, abdomen, head, skeletal system, and many more.

CT scan procedure is considered as a comfortable, calmer, and faster procedure.

In MRI scans, strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses are used to scan and capture the images of the body. MRI can also scan all parts of the body like chest, abdomen, and head but it can’t scan the bone or skeletal structure.

MRI scan can efficiently scan the soft tissues but it is more boisterous and takes prolonged processing time.


 

Comparison Table Between CT and MRI (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonCTMRI
DefinitionCT scan is a faster and comfortable procedure to capture the images of the internal body parts for the diagnosis of critical diseases using X-rays.MRI scan is a little longer and noisy procedure that captures the images of the body parts except skeletal structure for diagnosis of critical diseases using strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses.
Exposure to RadiationThere is minimal radiation exposure in CT scans as multiple X-rays are taken. CT scan is not recommended or strictly prohibited to pregnant women.None
CostLess expensive.More expensive.
Used ForIt is a widely used chest, abdomen, head, skeletal system, and many more.MRI can scan all parts of the body like chest, abdomen, and head but it can't scan the bone or skeletal system.
Any Involvement of ReactionRarely, but patients with low immunity, who previously have kidney problems, very dehydrated patients, and diabetes holds the threat to kidneys.Very rare, patients with low immunity can get allergic reactions to the IV contrast.
ComfortCT scan machine is open enough to easily accommodate the patient, so a very comfortable and non-noisy process.A narrow tube of the MRI scanning machine sometimes causes anxiety to the patient. It a very noisy process too.

 

What is CT scan?

In the CT (Computed Tomography) scan, detailed images of different body organs, bones, and tissues are captured using an X-ray. There is a table on which person or patient lies that basically moves through the scanning ring.

Once the scanning is done and vital parameters are captured by the machine, the same are assembled and used to create 3-D images of the said body area. The captured images show the clear abnormalities in respective soft tissue or bone if any like bone fracture, tumor, or pneumonia in the lungs.

CT scan can produce the detailed images of the entire body in less than 10 minutes and captured images are produced in slices. CT scan is used for diagnosing many critical illnesses like cancer.

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It helps to identify its stage, monitor how the treatment is going on, and also survey the body to check where it has spread. CT scan is the first choice to diagnose cancer and its stage.

It is a less expensive, quick and comfortable scanning process where the patient doesn’t feel any kind of anxiety and tiredness. But there is an exposure to radiation.

CT scan machine
CT scan machine
 

What is MRI scan?

In MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan, a combination of strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses are used to scan the organs and tissues of the body to capture their detailed images. MRI can be used to scan the abdomen, chest, and head but can’t scan the skeletal structure of the body i.e. bone.

MRI is a revolutionized medical procedure that is very helpful in diagnosing the critical illnesses that require the image capturing at soft tissue levels. Few examples include uterine cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, and certain cancers that are very difficult to scan and detect using any other procedure.

In MRI, there is no exposure to radiation but this process creates a little discomfort to the patient as it takes a longer period. A narrow tube of the MRI scanning machine sometimes causes distress and anxiety to the patient, and there is noise as well. It’s an expensive medical procedure too.

MRI scan machine
MRI scan machine

Main Differences Between CT and MRI

To summarize, the main difference between CT and MRI are,

  1. CT scan is a diagnostic procedure that can scan the body parts using X-ray, whereas MRI is a diagnostic procedure that can scan the body parts using strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency pulses.
  2. CT scan is a comfortable, easy, and faster process, whereas MRI is a little difficult, noisy, and takes a little longer time in scanning.
  3. In CT scan, images of whole-body parts or organs can be captured including skeletal structure, whereas in MRI skeletal structure i.e. bones can’t be scanned but it can efficiently scan the soft tissues.
  4. In CT scan, exposure to radiation is involved, whereas an MRI there is no exposure to radiation.
  5. CT scan is a less expensive diagnostic process, whereas MRI is a little expensive.
  6. In the CT scan, the patient seldom creates any claustrophobia, whereas, in MRI, anxiety is common due to long procedural activity where the patient feels annoyed and tired.
  7. In CT scan, there is no limitation except patients having metal implants, whereas in MRI, people with tattoos, metal implants, and Cardiac Pacemakers, are restricted or contraindicated as it may cause an injury to the patient or can distort the image.
  8. In CT scan, you can’t control the contrast of the images, whereas, in MRI the contrast of the image can be controlled or changed.

 

Infographic

CT vs MRI

 

Learn More With the Help of Videos

CT Scan

MRI Scan


 

Conclusion

Both, CT and MRI, scanning processes are very similar i.e. imaging internal body parts but produce different reports using different technology mechanisms. CT uses X-ray for scanning while MRI uses strong radio and magnetic waves for scanning.

CT and MRI both ease in diagnosing the critical illness, doctor recommendation purely depends upon the patient or person’s condition including the range of factors such as level of detail required, which body part is to be scanned, what is the medical reason, is a person undergoing treatment have claustrophobia or not, and is woman patient is pregnant or not.

But both are brilliant technological advancements that are helping the medical fraternity in assisting people with accurate diagnostic analysis.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between CT and MRI

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on CT and MRI. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

CT and MRI
Word Cloud for CT and MRI

 

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/ct-scan
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146309

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