In an auto accident? CT or MRI Scan Can Detect Internal Damage.

Whenever you are involved in any serious kind of accident, whether it be caused by a personal mishap, a sports injury or an automobile crash, it is important to check up on any internal damages or injuries you may have sustained.

One of the greatest concerns after a traumatic impact, especially an auto accident, is whether or not any bones are broken and whether or not there are any serious and life-threatening injuries.

In auto accident cases, herniated discs of the spine are very common. Also very common are shoulder injuries including rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, and also meniscus tears in the knee and head injuries.

Fortunately, imaging technology is extremely helpful in calming the worried patient, and if something is detected, in directing the type of care that will be provided and what the treatment options will be.

Should I have a CT or an MRI scan after
an accident?
Many patients ask about the differences between a CT (Computed Tomography) scan and an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan: “Which is better?” or “Should I have one over the other?”

While the machines look similar, what occurs inside these machines is quite different. A CT scanner sends X-ray beams through the body as it moves through an arc taking many pictures. A CT scan sees different levels of density and tissues inside a solid organ, and can provide detailed information about the body, including the head (brain and its vessels, eyes, inner ear, and sinuses), chest (heart and lungs), skeletal system (neck, shoulders and spine), pelvis and hips, reproductive systems, bladder and gastrointestinal tract.

Advances in CT scanning include increased patient comfort, faster scanning times and higher resolution images. As scans become quicker, X-ray exposure has decreased, providing better images at lower doses. The average CT scan today exposes patients to less radiation than what airline passengers receive on long flights. That said, anyone having a CT scan should talk to their doctor about the risks from radiation exposure versus the benefits of early diagnosis.

Unlike CT scans, which use X-rays, MRI scans use powerful magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and other internal body structures. Differences between normal and abnormal tissue is often clearer on an MRI image than a CT. And while there is no radiation involved in an MRI scan, it can be a noisy exam and take longer than a CT.

They sound similar — so which one is better?
It depends on what part of your body your doctor is interested in and the reason for the exam. Radiologists are the doctors who specialize in reading these images and collaborate with your doctor to determine what issue they want to diagnose.

For example, doctors will ask for a CT scan when they want to diagnose a muscle or bone disorder or look for tumors, a fracture or a blood clot. Bleeding in the brain, especially from an injury, can be seen better on a CT scan than an MRI. If you are in an accident, where damage to internal organs is not clear from a physical examination, a CT scan shows organ tear and injury, broken bones and spinal damage more efficiently.

However, if your doctor is interested in seeing your tendons and ligaments, then an MRI is the best choice. The spinal cord also can be seen better on an MRI image, since the density of these structures and tissues are more defined.

Naples Diagnostic Imaging Center provides comprehensive imaging services.  In addition to CT and MRI scans following an injury, NDIC diagnostic services include Integrated Positron Emission Tomography (PET) / Computed Tomography (CT); 64-detector CT; and Breast MRI, Diagnostic Radiology, Osteoporosis Evaluation, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, Mammography, CT Lung Screening, Cardiac and Cancer Screening, and Non-Invasive Vascular Testing are also available.

NDIC’s board-certified, fellowship-trained radiologists are the best the field has to offer. Our radiologists also have full privileges at Physicians Regional Medical Centers.


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