CAT scan also known as CT scan and MRI are often mistaken to be the same thing. CAT or CT is an acronym for computed axial technology. MRI is an acronym for magnetic resonance imaging. There is quite a substantial difference between CAT scan and MRI. It is natural to be confused between the two because the machines look similar and both the procedures are used to scan similar areas of the body. It is best to trust your doctor and radiologists or CAT scan and MRI specialists while determining the one that would be best suited for you in a given circumstance. Here is a simple overview of the difference between CAT scan and MRI to give you a fair idea.
Purpose of Cat Scan and MRI
CAT scan is ideal for any type of skeletal injuries. It is also great for diagnosing the condition of hearts, lungs and chest in general. If there are bone injuries in the head, spine or chest then CAT scan is the best way to identify the problems. MRI is ideal for diagnosis of conditions in tissues or ligaments. Any type of soft injury in the brain including tumor and in the spine would be better spotted using an MRI.
CAT scan is a simple process and it doesn’t take more than five minutes typically. MRI is an extensive process and might take more than half an hour. This is why CAT scan is available in emergency rooms while MRI is used more often when a patient has to be diagnosed but is not in an emergency situation.
A major difference between CAT scan and MRI is that the former uses radiation while the latter doesn’t. Radiation has its set of side effects and long exposures or repeated exposures to CAT scan can be harmful for anyone’s health.
CAT scan can diagnose cancer while MRI doesn’t have any such ability. CAT scan is usually cheaper than MRI scan although it depends entirely on the facility. There are some MRI scans that can cost less than a CAT scan. However, that is a rarity and in most cases, MRI can cost twice as much as a CT scan. One would opt for a CT scan if there is a fracture in the chest or spine, any heavy injury in the head leading to bleeding, pneumonia or organ injury. MRI would be opted for diagnosing tumors, soft tissues and ligaments.