Perhaps your doctor has scheduled you to have imaging done, and you aren’t sure what to expect. You may not be clear on what kind of imaging you will be doing and what will be involved in the process. Most people dread these appointments because they think it will take a long time or be painful or harmful to the body.
However, understanding what these imaging procedures are used for and how they work will help make you feel prepared and comfortable going into your appointment.
Why are CT or MRI scans needed?
CT scans are usually used to help diagnose head, spine, or lung injuries. Your doctor may also order a CT scan in order to identify broken bones, especially small fractures that may not be visible in a normal x-ray. A CT scan is also often used to identify and locate tumors.
An MRI allows for very detailed images of the inside of the body. It can be used to provide doctors with a clear look at joints and tendons, as well as the brain, breasts, and muscles.
How long will it take?
A CT scan is generally very quick, and may even take as little as 5 minutes. Most CT scans will not take longer than 15 minutes.
An MRI may take a little while longer, often ranging from 30 minutes to an hour. Most of the time, patients are given the option to listen to music or watch videos to help make the time pass quickly and comfortably.
What are the risks associated with CT and MRI scans?
A CT scan uses the same technology as an x-ray machine, meaning that the body will be exposed to small amounts of radiation. However, progressive technology and highly trained technicians ensure that you receive only minimal amounts of radiation exposure.
An MRI uses magnets in order to produce images. Because of this, you will be asked not to wear any metal jewelry that may interfere with the MRI results. Additionally, you should tell your doctor if you have a pacemaker or any metal pins or screws in your body.
Talk to your doctor
If you are feeling anxious or have concerns about your imaging appointment, bring your questions to your doctor. He or she will be able to answer your questions and set your mind at ease before your appointment. Understanding how CT and MRI scans work can help you feel comfortable and informed before, during, and after the appointment.