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Diagnosis Through MRI And CT Scans


MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is one of the most important methods of diagnosing the cause of back pain. With MRI scan you can get very well-defined images of bones and soft tissues. The images provided by MRI scan are similar to those of CT scan. The images of MRI scan provide serial slices through the lumber spine or any other area of interest. These involve magnetism to obtain the images instead of X-rays. MRI is useful in detecting annular tears, disc fragments and non-spinal causes of back pain including infection and cancer.

 However, sometimes, determining treatment through MRI images of disc abnormalities has resulted in unnecessary surgeries as many people have protruding vertebral discs and still have no back pain. Therefore, the abnormalities revealed by MRI scan are not always the right reason for the need of surgery. MRIs are less effective than X-rays in identifying the bone problems and are more expensive too.

CT scans are also useful in providing detailed and excellent bone and tissue information. CT stands for Computerized Tomography. In CT scan, a beam of thin X-rays is rotated around the affected area. The computer is able to generate a 3-D image of a section through the body by using mathematical process called algorithms. These are helpful in showing cross sections of the spine. CT scans are like slices of bread. If there is something within the bread, may be sausage, picture of the bread would not show the sausage. But slicing the bread with thickness of each slice being 5 millimeters than looking at each slice laying down on its side would accurately show what is buried within the bread.

They are able to provide detailed bone information but are not that good in showing soft tissues like nerves, tumors and herniated discs. This scanning process uses X-rays for diagnosing. So, these two methods are commonly used for diagnosing the cause of back pain. However, MRI scanning is more effective than CT scanning as it provides a detailed and clear picture of soft tissues.

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