Differences between XRays and CT or MRI scans

The differences between Xrays and CT or MRI scans are presented here in two views.

view 1 facts

How X-Rays are very different than MRIs.

The biggest difference between an MRI and X-ray is in the manner in which the image is produced. There are no ionizing radiation (the fancy term for X-rays) involved in producing an MRI scan. Instead, MRIs use a strong magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to make images of structures inside the body. So in the broadest or biggest sense, an MRI scan prevents a person from any exposure to X-Rays or any other forms of radiation.

However, that causes another big difference between them both. An MRI may take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes or more to capture the images. Sometimes even a couple hours in certain circumstances. An X-Ray, however, is somewhat instant compared. Most xrays take around the same time as snapping a picture with your phone or camera. So you could see why in cases such as an emergency, an xray might make more sense.

If a doctor is looking for the most complete information he can get from a test, there is one clear winner - an MRI. Not only can an MRI provide pictures from almost every angle, it can provide a 360 degree view. And, if finding out about a patient's blood vessels are part of the equation, the addition of a contrast given during an MRI can show blood flow and other blood vessel data that no other test can provide, including an xray.

MRIs are very good at identifying legament tears and joint effusions in knee of shoulder injuries. They are also preferred often in the imaging of the spine since both the bones and the spinal cord itself can be evaluated.An MRI can also frequently detect a bone bruise when no crack is visible or hard to see on an X-ray.

Here are two examples to compare:

Image coming soon from Two Views

ABOVE: XRAY of Cervical Spine and Neck.

ABOVE: MRA of blood vessels in neck.

How X-Rays are very different than CT scans.

Like an X-ray, CT scans also use ionizing radiation to produce images.

More information to come.

Here are two examples to compare:

Xray of head from Two Views

ABOVE: X-ray of the front of a head.

CT of head from Two Views

ABOVE: CT of head taken as slices.


We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Specific Xrays

AbdomenAnkleAppendixArmBladderBlood VesselsBoneBowelBrainBreastCervical SpineChestColonDiscElbowFallopian TubeFingerFootGallbladderHandHeadHeartHipJawJointKidneyKneeLegLumbar SpineLungLymph NodesNeckNosePelvisRibsShoulderSinusSkullSpineTeethThoracic SpineThumbToeUrinary TractUterusWrist


IMPORTANT: The information on this page, and throughout the entire site, is not intended to provide advice or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s). Images are shown for illustrative purposes. Do not attempt to draw conclusions or make diagnoses by comparing these image to other medical images, particularly your own.

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