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What’s The Difference between an X-ray, MRI, and CT scan? When Can These Scans Be Performed?


What’s The Difference between an X-ray, MRI, and CT scan? When Can These Scans Be Performed?

By and large, doctors take recourse to diagnostic imaging techniques to zero in on potential symptoms and causes of illnesses for a more precise diagnosis. The three distinctive diagnostic imaging techniques which are universally used include X-rays, MRI, and CT scans.

So how do we differentiate between X-Rays, MRI and CT scans? Here’s what you need to know.


They’re the most commonly used and widely prevalent imaging technique to do diagnosis. Even when patients are in want of a more detailed examination, they will, more often than not, be asked to get an X-ray done initially.

X-rays make use of radiation technique to create your body’s images. When X-rays pass through your body’s dense objects, for example, bones they’re shown as white silhouettes on the film. The main function of X-rays is to view and diagnose the following.

  • A bone disease
  • Degeneration of bones
  • A bone fracture
  • A bone dislocation
  • Infections
  • Tumors

Even though X-rays are primarily used to inspect skeletal structures, they can also be utilized to examine internal organs. Under such a scenario, a patient may be administered a barium sulfate dye to make the organs appear more clear and distinct in the X-ray images.

In the course of an X-ray, the affected part of the patient’s body that’s up for examination will be positioned in the middle of the machine and photographic film. Next, electromagnetic waves are transmitted by the machine through the body of the patient. As a result, the patient’s internal structures are reflected in the exposed film.

Even if the amount of radiation emitted by an X-ray machine isn’t regarded asdangerous, doctors from renowned diagnostic clinics that offer imaging, blood and urine lab tests take necessary safety measures if the patient is pregnant.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

This technique utilizes forceful magnetic and radio waves to fabricate in-depth, high-resolution, cross-sectional images of bones or the body’s softer internal structures. MRI is devoid of any radiation and frequently used for the diagnosis of bone or joint problems, torn ligaments and cartilages, and herniated discs.

For the period ofan MRI scanning test, the patient is made to lie still on a table that slithers into a tube-like scanner. A magnetic field is engendered around the patient by the machine which conveys radio waves into the affected area of the body. The penetration of radio waves into the body causes its tissues to resonate. Then, the vibrations are interpreted into insightful 2D images captured on a special computer program.

Even though MRI is a non-invasive procedure, the machine does emanate a loud sound. Since MRI makes use of large magnets, it’s mandatory to remove any metal clips, objects or implants from your body prior to entering the MRI room. The average MRI scan cost in Delhi can be anywhere between INR 1500 and INR 25000 based on the body part being scanned. It may be noted that MRI scans aren’t available at all hospitals. In case your doctor has suggested doing an MRI, you may be required to choose a designated imaging center and get the test done there.

Computed tomography scan or CT scan

Much akin to an MRI, a CT scan also produces comprehensive, high-quality images of the body. But, a CT scan is more sophisticated and powerful than an X-ray and helps form 360-degree images of internal organs, the spine and the vertebrae. To amplify the visibility of structures examined via CT scan, contrast dyes are frequently injected into the bloodstream.

CT scans also produce elaborate images of bones, organs, soft tissues, blood vessels, etc. The tests are highly beneficial in easily detecting cancer, cardiac ailments, musculoskeletal disorders,infectious diseases, traumatic disorders, and appendicitis.

The CT scan machine resembles a huge box-like structure with a tunnel at the center. A table on which the patient lies glides in and out of the tunnel. Meanwhile, the scanning machine undergoes a rotation around the patient and generates high-resolution, cross-sectional images. In a separate room, sits a technician who performs the scan. The room is full of computers that display vivid images of the internal body structures. The technician communicates with the patient with the help of speakers and microphones.

Being more expensive than an X-ray, a CT scan in Delhi costs anywhere between INR 3000 and INR 5000.

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