Posts Tagged ‘CT scan’

What are the Differences Between a CT Scan and MRI?

What are the Differences Between a CT Scan and MRI?If your doctor requests an advanced imaging scan to aid in making a diagnosis, two of the most common tests requested are the CT Scan and MRI. Let’s take a look at how each of these tests show cross-sectional pictures of the body using different techniques.

CT stands for computerized tomography. This scan uses multiple x-rays that are taken at different angles in order to produce a cross-sectional image. 

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. Here a combination of magnetic fields and radio frequencies are used, so the MRI scanner can generate a 3D image of the part of the body being examined. 

Both of these techniques can be used to examine the same parts of the body, and the choice of which one should be used is based on the possible diagnosis. In general, CT scans are used for diagnosing serious injuries to the head, chest, spine, abdomen, and pelvis, and are helpful when trying to determine if fractures are involved. In contrast, the MRI does a better job of diagnosing issues in joints, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues. MRIs are often used to scan the brain, spine, neck, breast, abdomen, and muscles. 


Differences between a CT Scan and MRI

  • Radiation – CT scans use X-ray technology so minimal radiation exposure is present. CT scans are not usually used during pregnancy for this reason. MRI’s do not involve radiation.
  • Cost – CT scans are usually less expensive than MRI tests.
  • Time for Procedure – CT scans are done fairly quickly. Most CT scans take around 5 minutes to complete. MRI’s can range from 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the part of the body that is being examined.
  • Patient comfort – CT scans are done in an open machine so concerns about being in a small space are rarely an issue. MRI’s are traditionally done in a narrow tube, and can sometimes cause anxiety. Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine has an open MRI machine to help with concerns about anxiety if MRI is the best choice for the diagnosis. 
  • Limitations – The table used in CT scans accommodate approximately 300 pounds, so if a larger table is required, a patient may need to go to a facility with appropriate equipment. MRI machines with the conventional tube design may also have limitations based on the size of the patient. Open MRI machines would be an alternative option. In addition, MRI machines utilize magnetic fields during the scan so patients with certain metal objects implanted in the body (e.g. pacemakers, rods, some prosthetic joints, and even certain tattoos) may prevent the use of MRI tests.


Your doctor will discuss the type of test that they are considering to make the diagnosis. If you have any questions or concerns please share that with your specialist. Schedule an appointment at one of our seven locations!


concussionA concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Concussions are a concern for young athletes in sports that involve contact. Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. Monitoring an injured child or adult is essential to recognizing symptoms that require medical care.  Diagnosing a concussion through the appropriate imaging testing, such as those done at Peninsula Radiology, is the most accurate form of diagnosis.


Common Causes of Concussion

There are many ways to get a concussion. Some common ways include

  • fights
  • falls
  • playground injuries
  • car accidents
  • bike accidents
  • Participating in any sport or activity such as:
    • football
    • soccer
    • boxing
    • hockey
    • skiing
    • snowboarding


Symptoms of a Concussion

It is not always easy to tell if you have a concussion. You don’t have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. If you notice any symptoms of a concussion, contact your doctor. Physical symptoms of a concussion include:


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache and pressure in head
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Balance problems
  • Feeling tired or having no energy


How is a concussion diagnosed?

You need to see a doctor if you have sustained an injury or blow to the head and are showing symptoms of a concussion. If a doctor thinks that you have a concussion, he or she will ask questions about the injury. Your doctor may test your reflexes and order a CT Scan or an MRI to make sure the brain is not swelling, bleeding or bruised.


Treatment for a Concussion

The treatment for a concussion involves resting and abstaining from all physical activity until your doctor has determined it is safe. Rest is the best way to recover from a concussion. Getting plenty of sleep and avoiding activities that are mentally and physically demanding will hasten your recovery rate.


Preventing Concussions

Experts agree that the best ways to prevent concussion are to:

  • Play by the rules. Teaching young athletes to respect and follow the rules of their sport is part of good coaching.
  • Wear the appropriate equipment for your sport and wear it properly. Always close a chin strap if your sport requires a helmet; many concussions occur during practice.
  • Examine the playing field for uneven areas or holes.
  • Make certain that goal posts are padded sufficiently.
  • Practice good sportsmanship. Teaching good sportsmanship is part of good coaching and good parenting; minimizing unnecessary aggression on the field.
  • Learn and use proper technique for your sport. Some sports organizations have taken additional action to minimize the risk of concussion by limiting the number of contact practices allowed during the season.

If you’ve suffered any of the above causes of concussion and are showing symptoms, it is vitally important to seek medical care.  Peninsula Radiology’s team of highly trained imaging professionals and medical providers are able to diagnose concussion after a thorough review of imaging tests.  Contact us at (757) 989-8830 for more information.


Brain Imaging Techniques: How Youth Sports-Related Concussions Are Evaluated

brain imagingOur team at Peninsula Radiology Associates is pleased to present this article on concussions, particularly for its timeliness. As you know, scientific findings show that too many concussions sustained repeatedly from falls or collisions (as in pro football) may result later in brain damage, confusion, depression, aggression and early dementia.

If you have a child, middle-school or high-school-aged family member playing sports, and you suspect your loved one has sustained a concussion, it’s important to go to your family doctor or urgent care center immediately. Your doctor will most likely emphasize the importance of brain imaging to his diagnosis and treatment.

In the event of a mild concussion, sometimes referred to as mTBI or mild Traumatic Brain Injury, a physician or emergency room personnel will evaluate your loved one’s symptoms and decide whether a CT scan or MRI for brain imaging will be needed. You will want to get your child’s brain imaged as soon as possible, since the effects of sport-related concussions (SRCs) on the developing brains of pre-high-school-aged athletes are not well understood.

Immediately after injury

If a patient is brought in soon after an injury occurs, a CT scan will likely be chosen to rule out a more serious concussion. CT scans can show acute injuries like hematoma (bleeding in or around the brain), edema (swelling of the brain) or a skull fracture. When a concussion is mild, the CT scan often comes back as normal. If a patient is not feeling well, a CT scan is easier and faster to perform as well as less costly for parents.

Two days after injury

If the concussion happened more than 48 hours ago, an MRI is a more likely choice. An MRI will show details that would not show up in a CT scan. This type of scan is better at showing even tiny injuries to the brain, such as small contusions (bruises), micro-hemorrhages (small areas of bleeding) or signs of microscopic damage to nerve fibers. These small changes in the brain are what doctors want to check for when a patient has not recovered as quickly as expected or has worsening symptoms.

An older concussion

If an injury occurred a long time ago, physicians use either CT or MRI to look for brain atrophy, when brain tissue is injured or dead and the surrounding tissue begins to absorb it. This changes the physical structure of the brain over time.

Most patients with a mild concussion will fully recover in a short amount of time. When parents or physicians see that a child has continuing headaches, poor balance, difficulty in thinking or other symptoms that don’t go away, another brain imaging scan, either CT or MRI, will be ordered. If a scan shows a structural change in the patient’s brain, such as atrophy, the physician will know more about how to proceed and help the patient recover.

Every young athlete’s SRC is different, and every concussion will result in a range of symptoms. If you or a loved one needs an appointment for brain imaging at one of our seven convenient Peninsula Radiology locations, please call (757) 989-8830 to schedule.