What You Need to Know About MRI and CT Scans

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Finding out that you have to get a CT or MRI scan will likely be a difficult and stressful moment. There are lots of reasons to need a CT or MRI scan, but none of them are ideal. On top of that, you may be expected to make a choice between the two. Whether you’re hopping into a CT scanner or an open MRI scanner, it can be hard to think clearly about which would be the better choice, or even what factors you should be considering.

Cost

Your insurance might cover most or even all of your costs, but if it doesn’t, you could be forced to ask about costs yourself. Overall, CT scans are less expensive than MRIs, but that comes with trade offs.

Time

As a general rule, CT scans are faster, taking as little as five to ten minutes. This won’t account for wait time to use the machine, but the scan itself is generally faster. MRI scans are getting better and faster all the time, but they can take up to an hour or more depending on the area in question and the depth of detail your doctor needs.

Sensitivity

When it comes to sensitivity, MRIs are the clear winner. An MRI will always give a clearer, more detailed picture of what you’re looking at. They’re particularly good for looking at hearts, tumors, and other complex soft tissues.

Other Concerns

The most important thing to understand is why your doctor recommends one or the other. Concern about radiation exposure might dictate the need for an MRI over a CT scan. If you have metallic implants of any kind, an MRI simply won’t be possible, and if you struggle with claustrophobia, it might not be recommended. Make sure your doctor knows all the pertinent details so they can help you make a healthy, fully informed choice.

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