MRI, CT, x-ray of the spine, which is better

Pain in the back are present in a large number of people in the world. Are especially prone to discomfort in the back those whose work involves long sitting position. It is important to immediately contact a doctor and get prescribed an examination. In the future, the problem will only get worse and can lead to serious consequences.

During the examination of the spine, you can face the problem of choice between MRI, CT, x-ray of the spine and which is better? You should understand the difference and then it will be easy to choose a quality method of obtaining information about the discomfort in the spine.

What is MRI, CT, x-ray of the spine

During diagnosis with an MRI evaluates the condition of the bone tissue of the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, muscles, and blood vessels. The MRI examination is different from other methods of diagnosis that MRI can detect inflammation and changes in the spinal cord.

Contraindications to MRI examination:

  • Diseases of the spine that do not allow a long time to be in a fixed horizontal position.
  • The presence in the body of the spokes, dentures.
  • Claustrophobic.
  • Pregnancy.
  • The state of alcoholic or narcotic intoxication.
  • Weight over 110 kg.

Computed tomography of the spine allows you to examine the spine fully and to obtain images in all projections. The examination for the spine the irradiation with x-rays. When examining a CT scan can reveal the integrity of the structure of the bone marrow, neuralgia and the presence of bleeding.

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Contraindications of CT are similar to MRI:

  • Claustrophobic.
  • The inability to remain a long time stationary.
  • Severe mental condition.
  • Weight over 110 kg.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Diseases of the thyroid gland.
  • Diabetes.

X-rays of the spine

At this stage it is difficult to understand which is better CT or MRI of the spine because they are not too different from each other.

X – ray- one of the most popular methods of examination. Using x-rays to obtain images of lateral or rear projection. More accurate information during an x-ray to obtain during a survey of a particular area. All of this is the easiest and cost effective way examination.

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Radiography has limited number of contraindications:

  • Pregnancy.
  • The inability to remain in a certain position, even a relatively small amount of time.
  • Overweight.

When choosing an MRI or x-ray of the cervical spine required to consult a doctor to avoid serious injury and subsequent complications. An MRI or x-ray of the cervical appointed for specific tasks of the survey.

When dizziness, discomfort or pain in the neck, the violation of the motion you must contact the clinic.

The choice of research method and what is their specific difference

MRI, CT and x-ray have their pros and cons, as well as conducting each survey is different from each other.

MRI has a distinct mechanism of conducting the survey. This method is based on the premises of a person in a magnetic field. Prior special preparation for MRI is not required. Before the examination you can eat, it does not affect the results. For a comfortable the procedure you need to wear light clothes made of natural fabrics.

You need to remove jewelry, glasses and watches. These items can distort the results. In some MRI examinations, to improve the quality of the results can be injected contrast agent. The patient lies on a table that moves along the scanner. The MRI scanner is a tunnel view. Scan of the spine takes place during the movement of the table. The duration of the survey, 30-40 minutes. There is a method of examination – CT of the spine. Different from an MRI that uses x-rays, not magnetic field. On CT of the spine there is the ability to view soft tissues of the lumbar spine.

The advantages of MRI:

  1. The lack of radiation exposure.
  2. The high degree of informativeness.
  3. Assessment of muscles, blood vessels and nerves.
  4. The possibility of examination of children.
  5. Detection of tumors, herniated discs and degenerative disc disease.

MRI has its drawbacks:

  1. The unavailability – not every medical facility has for this device.
  2. High cost.
  3. Finding a long period of time in one position.

After reviewing the pros and cons it is possible to choose an MRI or CT of the spine. With constant dizziness and headaches, numbness of the hands is assigned to the MRI of the cervical spine. When the patient marked jumps in blood pressure, ringing in the ears or blurred vision and hearing, without an MRI of the cervical spine to establish a more accurate diagnosis do not.

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What distinguishes a CT from an MRI? It is better to choose

Computed tomography performed with contrast and without. The contrast is intravenous injection of a special contrast agent, by which the gain derived from arteries or veins return signal. When conducting a contrast study in 7 – 9 hours before examination do not eat. Before diagnosis the patient may need to remove metal objects.

Difference CT scan MRI of the spine slightly. If necessary, after the first shots, the patient is administered a contrast agent, which is iodine. Possible allergic reaction to the drug, which manifests itself in the form of rash, itching, shortness of breath. When these symptoms should see a doctor, who diagnoses. The duration of the survey is 10-15 minutes.

Advantages of CT:

  • The examination can accurately determine the cause of pain in the spine.
  • The ability to image all tissues that are close.
  • The ability to identify internal bleeding.
  • The motion sensors are not as sensitive as MRI, thanks to the involuntary movements do not distort the results.
  • CT scan be performed in patients with spokes, plates and prosthetic, unlike an MRI.
  • Radiation are not harmful to the body.


  • There is a small probability of developing cancer, prolonged radiation.
  • Not carried out during pregnancy.
  • Allergic to iodine.
  • For children, CT is performed only in extreme cases.
  • Weight over 110 kg.
  • Problems and liver disease.

When choosing an MRI or CT scan of the spine is necessary to consult a doctor and exclusion prohibiting all points surveying methods.

What distinguishes x-rays from CT and MRI

X-rays are available in each clinic and is a simple and affordable way of conducting the survey. Before x-rays empty the intestine, gases can interfere with an accurate examination of the spine. Examination better to go on an empty stomach.

The patient before the procedure removes all jewelry and undress from the waist up. After that, placed on the table of the machine. If there is a fracture of the cervical spine, to begin with is the C-spine, which will help to lead to subsequent complications. Pictures without problems show the distortion of the spine. The procedure takes about fifteen minutes and discomfort the patient does not matter.

You cannot be screened during pregnancy. Only if in case of emergency, the stomach impose a special protective apron. This is the only limitation for examination by x-ray. The advantages of this survey – accessibility and speed.

When choosing an MRI or x-ray of the spine and which is better for specific case, you should consult with your doctor. High-quality examination and the final results – the key to accurate determine the cause of the pain. Another study of the spine ultrasound of the spine. Techniques such as CT and MRI is more informative, but an ultrasound of the spine more accessible. Ultrasound of the spine is the only method that can pass pregnant women and other patients with contraindications.

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