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!
A 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
- playground injuries
- car accidents
- bike accidents
- Participating in any sport or activity such as:
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
- 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.
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.
What is MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that physicians use to diagnose and treat medical conditions. The MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and all other internal body structures. Detailed MR images allow physicians to see various parts of the body and determine the presence of certain diseases.
An MRI is a valuable tool for diagnosing a broad range of conditions including:
- heart and vascular disease
- stroke and other anomalies of the brain
- joint and musculoskeletal disorders
What is an MRI used to assess?
MR imaging of the body is performed to evaluate:
- Musculoskeletal System
- spine – disc herniation, spinal stenosis, spinal tumors
- soft tissue such as ligaments and tendons
- Organs of the chest and abdomen—including:
- coronary artery disease
- blood vessels
- damage caused by heart attack or heart disease
- biliary tract
- adrenal glands
- Pelvic organs including the bladder and the reproductive organs such as the uterus and ovaries in females and the prostate gland in males.
Physicians use an MRI procedure to help examine and diagnose or monitor treatment for conditions such as:
- tumors of the chest, abdomen or pelvis
- diseases of the liver, such as cirrhosis, and abnormalities of the bile ducts and pancreas
- inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- heart problems, such as congenital heart disease
- malformations of the blood vessels and inflammation of the vessels (vasculitis)
- tumors of the brain, developmental anomalies of the brain, vascular anomalies of the head (aneurysm)
- disorders of the eye
- disease in the pituitary gland
- certain chronic disorders of the nervous system and causes of a headache
An MRI of the brain and other cranial structures is clearer and more detailed than other imaging methods.
Early Detection of Breast Cancer
An MRI is a valuable tool in the early detection of breast cancer. In the early diagnosis of breast cancer, MRI is an alternative to traditional x-ray mammography. At Peninsula Radiology Associates, an MRI of the breast helps us to gather information about many different breast conditions that are not obtainable through a mammography or ultrasound. Breast MRIs are a valuable supplemental tool, but are not a replacement for a yearly mammography or ultrasound.
At Peninsula Radiology, we deliver the most comprehensive range of medical diagnostic imaging and interventional radiological procedures available on the Virginia Peninsula. Peninsula Radiological Associates is affiliated with the highly esteemed Riverside Health System. This partnership allows for the greatest level of expertise, technology and service to our patients. Call today to schedule an appointment (757) 989-8830.