MRI, CT SCAN: What’s the difference?

Major advances in healthcare have led to the creation of non-invasive imaging techniques such as the MRI & CT Scan to give high resolution images of what is going on inside the body. Before now, doctors had to rely on x-rays, but these two types of medical imaging give a clearer visual representation of organs and other internal structures making it easier for physicians to diagnose ailments.

The confusion has always been which should be prescribed and why.



The MRI uses powerful magnetic fields and radio frequencies to generate detailed images of internal organs, tissues and bones. It is usually used to produce detailed sectional images of the body in any imaging plane. It is used to identify brain tumours spinal cord injuries, tendon injuries etc.

With the images produced by this scan, your doctor can view the body parts being scanned in slices, like it was sliced layer by layer and a picture of each slice was taken, this leads to a more accurate diagnosis of ailments.


The CT scan is a fast and painless procedure that uses sophisticated X-ray to detect disease conditions. The images generated by this machine can be viewed on a computer or printed for review.

The CT scan can be used to diagnose bone disorders, cardiovascular diseases, internal injury and also detect cancer.


These two imaging techniques are very similar in that they produce very high definition images unlike the traditional X-rays although the main differences are the methods by which the images are obtained – MRI uses magnetic fields while the CT uses radio frequencies. Although the MRI produces a more detailed soft tissue resolution images than the CT, the CT is very fast and can be used in cases of emergencies. It can be done in less than five minutes unlike the MRI that could take up to two hours.

They are both relatively safe;  we take our time to go through patient’s history and ailments before advising on which of them to be done.

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