Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the body's internal structures that are clearer, more detailed and more likely in some instances to identify and accurately characterize disease than other imaging methods. It is used to evaluate the body for a variety of conditions, including tumors and diseases of the liver, heart, and bowel. It may also be used to monitor an unborn child in the womb. MRI is noninvasive and does not use ionizing radiation.
Computed tomography (CT) is a diagnostic imaging test used to create detailed images of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels. The cross-sectional images generated during a CT scan can be reformatted in multiple planes, and can even generate three-dimensional images which can be viewed on a computer monitor, printed on film or transferred to electronic media. CT scanning is often the best method for detecting many different cancers since the images allow your doctor to confirm the presence of a tumor and determine its size and location. CT is fast, painless, noninvasive and accurate. In emergency cases, it can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly enough to help save lives.
Ultrasound imaging uses a transducer or probe to generate sound waves and produce pictures of the body's internal structures. It does not use ionizing radiation, has no known harmful effects, and provides a clear picture of soft tissues that don't show up well on x-ray images. Ultrasound is often used to help diagnose unexplained pain, swelling and infection. It may also be used to provide imaging guidance to needle biopsies or to see and evaluate conditions related to blood flow. It's also the preferred imaging method for monitoring a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
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