CT or MRI have brought about a revolution in the study of the brain, allowing the researchers and doctors to study and take a look at the brain noninvasively. These imaging techniques allow noninvasive evaluation of the structure of the brain to infer the causes of any disease or abnormal function.
If you’re looking for an answer as to which imaging modality is more suitable for the brain, CT or MRI, it depends on the purpose of the examination. Both these techniques have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. There are a number of factors that should be considered for decision making, including your age, size, ability to stay calm in enclosed places, cost, potential adverse reactions, and whether the need is emergent.
In emergencies that require immediate attention, CT should be your method of choice. CT scan is usually completed within five minutes and is generally much faster than an MRI. On the other hand, an MRI can take anywhere between ten minutes to two hours.
The Need of the Patient
Claustrophobic patients are recommended to get a CT, as it is generally much quicker than an MRI. It is also a great option for patients with implanted devices, for example, people with pacemakers, embedded shrapnel, ferromagnetic objects, or vascular clips cannot undergo an MRI safely.
Cost is another consideration for patients. In most cases, MRI is more expensive than CT imaging.
Exposure to radiation is associated with increased cancer risk. Therefore, it is wise to limit a patient’s exposure, especially children, as they are more vulnerable to radiation and also in cases where patients require multiple imaging scans. CT imaging uses X-rays, whereas MRI utilizes magnetic fields and radio waves to get pictures and causes no biological damage. Let’s now compare CT with MRI for head issues.
Advantages of head CT over MRI
- It is much quicker than MRI, making it ideal in cases of trauma and acute neurological emergencies.
- CT gives a detailed evaluation of cortical bone
- CT allows for accurate detection of metal foreign bodies and calcification
Advantages of head MRI over CT
- MRI has a greater range available to show soft tissue contrast. It depicts anatomy in greater detail. It is also more sensitive and specific for abnormalities inside the brain.
- MRI contrast agents have a much smaller risk of causing any lethal allergic reaction.
- With MRI, the evaluation of structures that can be obscured by artifacts from a bone in CT images can be taken with ease.