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Understand the difference between a CT scan, PET and MRI

Understand the difference between a CT scan, PET and MRI
Anderson Team
October 23, 2019
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

CT Scans and MRI can play a crucial role when it comes to diagnosing health issues at the right time in the right way. MRIs and CT scans are utilized to take images within the body. The significant difference between the two is that MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging utilizes radio waves, and computed tomography or CT utilizes x-rays. Though both have low risks, there are certain differences which make each one a recommended choice according to the circumstances.

The data obtained by MRI and CT scans have been directly associated with deteriorating cancer death rates and greater life expectancy. Both the scans assist surgeons in assessing and determining tumors, cysts, aneurysms, and soft tissue conditions. These imagining processes look similar to each other in some ways. Both MRI and CT develop cross-sectional pictures of the internal parts of the body. However, they achieve this by utilizing different methods.

It is the responsibility of the doctor to find out which method is best according to the patient’s medical condition. It can mostly be determined according to the body part that is being scanned and the time or urgency the images are required.

Also Read: Detecting Breast Cancer At An Early Stage

What is meant by a CT scan?

A CT scan utilizes x-rays captured at numerous different angles to develop a highly comprehensive cross-sectional picture of the interior part of the body. The x-ray beams can witness different levels of tissue and density within the solid organ, offering extremely exact details. The computer will join these pictures into three dimensional and detailed image of the inner parts of the body. The 3D views demonstrate any tumors or abnormalities which might exist. Certain times, the doctor will utilize the contrast agent, which is consumed by the patient, or be injected using an IV so as to obtain more detailed and contrast in the images.

It is mostly utilized when the physician requires pictures of the head (sinuses, inner ear, eyes, brain, and vessels), the skeletal system (spine, shoulders, and neck), the chest (lungs and heart), hips, pelvis, gastrointestinal tract, bladder, and reproductive systems. Doctors recommend a CT scan to determine tumor abnormalities, which could be cancer.

What is meant by an MRI scan?

It uses powerful radio frequency and magnetic fields to produce clear images of bone, soft tissues, organs, and various internal body structures. The best part of MRI imaging is it does not utilize ionizing radiation at the time of the scan, just like mammograms, x-rays, and CT-scans. There are different kinds of MRI, like:

  • Pelvic MRI
  • Lumbar MRI
  • Heart MRI
  • Cranial MRI
  • Chest MRI
  • Cervical MRI
  • Abdominal MRI

Though MRI generates excellent quality images, it is recommended on a limited basis due to the time it consumes to perform a scan. Certain patients experience claustrophobia when they are inside the MRI scan room.

MRI versus CT scan

CT scans are highly recommended than MRI. CT is less expensive than MRI. However, MRI is considered superior when it comes to clarity and detail of the picture. The main difference between the two is MRI does not utilize x-rays, where CT utilizes X-rays.


Both MRI and CT scans pose certain risks when utilized. It is mainly according to the kind of imaging or how the image is performed. The risks of a CT scan include:

  • Possible reaction due to utilization of dyes
  • A small dosage of radiation
  • Harmful to unborn babies

The risks of MRI scan include:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Body temperature increases when taking long MRIs
  • Hearing issues due to loud noises caused by the machine
  • Reactions to metals because of magnets

It is necessary to discuss with your doctor before the MRI, especially if you have certain implants like a pacemaker, an IUD, eye implants, and artificial joints.


Both CT and MRI scans display internal body structures. But CT scan is quicker and offers pictures of skeletal structures, organs, and tissues. An MRI offers detailed images.
Early detection always heightens the chances of early cure! Visit Anderson Diagnostics today to choose the right scan as recommended by experienced medical professionals to detect any health issues earlier and pave the way for a healthier and happier tomorrow!

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