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mri vs. ct scan

pandqmamappandqmama Posts: 175
edited 03/09/2014 - 2:02 PM in Spinal Cord Stimulation
I'm having a CT scan Tuesday to find out why I've been in such pain after twisting to hold my son's bowling bag. I am unable to have an mri because I have a spinal cord stimulator to help w failed back surgery syndrome. What is the difference between a ct scan and an mri? I've always had mri in the past, do the ct scan show less? What are the differences between the two? Anyone have a scs who has injured themselves again somewhere New?


  • I was told that I would have to have a myelogram to check for any bad discs or compressed nerves after the SCS was put in. That is done with the CT scanner.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • A CT scan is a type of x-ray. it used radiation to make the images. an MRI uses magentic fields to create the image, so no radiation. CT scan is better at showing issues with bones. MRI is better at showing soft tissue problems.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • Would things show on ct scan that didn't on x-Ray?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    I have not found a detailed explanation of the two here on Spine-Health, so I did some research
    ABC News, The Sentinel, and more said:

    MRI is non-invasive, does not use radiation, and provides good visualization of the spinal ligaments, a herniated disc, bony infection of the spine or disc. 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.

    A CT- scan, or a computed tomography scan, uses radiation to evaluate spinal abnormalities. 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. For instance, a CT scan can be used to evaluate spinal fractures, disc herniation, and spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal. CT scanning is more rapid than an MRI, and provides better detail of the bones of your spine.
    So, which one is better?

    That I leave up to the doctors. Based on what they are looking for in a patient, they decide which of the two tests should be done first. In some situations, they might need both.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I've got a bump right next to where my vertebrae bump should be and the original thought was the vertebrae that I had a laminectomy on twisted. My quality of life has drastically decreased in the last few months, loss of movement in left leg and left arm. The x-Ray didn't show anything definite and so the ct scan is my next step. I suffer from failed back surgery syndrome and although I'd rather nothing be wrong but I've lived with "nothing wrong" for years but suffered with horrible pain. I thought the scs took care of all that but now I'm back to step one again. I'm sleeping while my valium works and working w the help of fentynal and morphine. I'd like to scream and cry but keep on keeping on to keep the boys lives as uninterrupted as I can and not make my husband or parents worry about me. It's been two months like this,I don't know how long I can avoid the obvious.
  • pandqmama said:
    Would things show on ct scan that didn't on x-Ray?
    Yes. Soft tissues such as discs do show on a CT, just not in as much detail as on an MRI. An advantage of CT is that it shows both hard and soft tissues so if your issues encompass both, it can be very useful. It is also more convenient than an MRI. It is over much quicker and you aren't completely enclosed in the machine.
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