MRI versus CT Scan

  • carew28

    Posts: 849

    Aug 30, 2015 9:54 PM GMT
    Around the beginning of the month I had my annual physical at the local Veterans' Administration Outpatient Clinic, which I've had for many years, and always before turned out normal. They do a blood test and a urinalysis. This time, the urinalysis showed blood in my urine. The physicians' asst., whom I've known for years, told me that for some persons blood in the urine is normal, but since I'd never shown it before, he wanted me to have an ultrasound. So a few weeks later I drove to the V.A. Hospital in another city, and had an ultrasound.

    The physicians' asst. called me up the following week, and said the ultrasound showed 2 "large, irregular cysts" in my kidneys, and recommended going back to the V.A. Hospital for a CT Scan, and made an appointment for me. When I went to the appointment, I asked the radiologist (who was a doctor) about what the ultrasound had shown. He told me that kidney cysts are common, and usually harmless, but because mine were large and "raggedy", he recommended further imaging. I asked him if it would be possible for me to have an MRI (magnetic resonance) instead of a CT Scan, so that I could avoid the large amount of radiation. He told me that that was a reasonable request,and that either an MRI or a CT Scan would be appropriate. But he said I'd have to find another place to have the MRI done, because the V.A. Hospital doesn't offer MRIs, only CT Scans. I thanked him, and cancelled the CT Scan.

    Then I went to the local Medical Clinic that I go to, which is run by the Medical Centre Hospital in my hometown. The Medical Centre does both MRIs and CT Scans. I made an appointment,told the doctor (whom I hadn't seen before) about my experiences at the V.A. Outpatient Clinic, and the V.A. Hospital, and asked if I could be scheduled for a kidney & bladder MRI. She told me she'd look into it. A few days later, she called me back, told me she'd contacted the Veteran's Administration about my ultrasound, and was going to put in an order for me to have a CT Scan at the Medical Centre. I told her I'd rather have an MRI, so that I could avoid the radiation. I explained that I'd had numerous CT Scans in the past (in the Army & at hospital emergency rooms), and would like to avoid further radiation exposure, if possible. She told me that according to the Medical Centre procedures, a CT Scan was more appropriate for my condition than an MRI, so that was what she was ordering. She said that if any further imaging was needed, she'd possibly order an MRI, but for now, I'd have to have a CT Scan. I asked if I could have the MRI first, and told her that if it revealled a need for further imaging, then I'd have a CT Scan. But she said that she wasn't willing to deviate from conventional procedures, and that I'd have to have the CT Scan first. She put in the order for the CT Scan, and told me to call the Clinic back, and have them make an appointment for me.

    So as it stands now, I'm supposed to make an appointment for a CT Scan. I'm not pleased with how this is working out. I believe my request for an MRI was reasonable, but there doesn't seem to be anything else I can do at this point.

    Has anyone else on this forum ever experienced this kind of a problem ? How did it turn out.
  • metta

    Posts: 44446

    Aug 31, 2015 6:59 AM GMT
    Sorry to say that I don't have an answer for you.

    I have friends/neighbors...the husband does CT's and the wife does MRI's for a living.

    I think that CT Scans are normally cheaper than MRI's.
  • NursePractiti...

    Posts: 238

    Aug 31, 2015 8:29 AM GMT
    According to the guidelines that are used, CT or MRI can be used with equal clarity of the cysts I think your describing. The difference other than radiation is costs, time spent in the machine and sensitivity to patient movement. CT's are cheaper, less sensitive to movement and have faster results.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 31, 2015 10:07 AM GMT
    Come to RealJock message boards for all your medical needs.

  • Joeyphx444

    Posts: 2387

    Aug 31, 2015 2:12 PM GMT
    CT scan = computerized-axial tomography

    MRI = magnetic resonance image

    Sooo CT takes like a cross section view of you and MRI uses magnetic waves to take multiple images of you which are usually more detailed than CT but = more radiation, etc

  • LJay

    Posts: 11634

    Aug 31, 2015 2:28 PM GMT
    I think that you should go with the doctor's advice. You could certainly talk to the doctor about the risk of radiation exposure in this case, but my guess, having had a lot of xrays and CT scans myself, is that it is minimal.
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    Aug 31, 2015 2:31 PM GMT
    No -- CT uses X-ray

    MRI does not use X-ray (magnets instead)

    X-ray radiation can cause mutations etc (which in theory could lead to cancer), hence MRI's are generally safer.

    However, whilst you may be thinking "MRI is the clear winner" it's not, always. CT scans are much better in certain instances than MRI scans; they show different things. A CT, for example is best for a concussion. They are also used when MRIs can't be used, like if the patient has metal implants etc.
  • metta

    Posts: 44446

    Aug 31, 2015 3:21 PM GMT

    "A chest x-ray will expose you to about 8 millirems; a head/neck x-ray will expose you to about 20 millirems; a lumbar spine x-ray will expose you to about 130 millirems."

    "On average, a person living in the United States will naturally be exposed to somewhere around 360 millirems (36,500 bananas) of radiation per year, with the vast majority of that (300 millirems or so) coming from the sun, soil, rocks, and other natural sources."

    "Although bananas contain very little radiation, they are radioactive enough to trigger false alarms in some radiation sensors used to detect illegal smuggling of nuclear materials."
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 31, 2015 3:59 PM GMT
    That's interesting icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 01, 2015 6:27 AM GMT
    You never thought about doing your own research on this?

    I was curious, so, I went to the FDA, and found out how the CT scan radiation exposure compares to typical background radiation. You may wish to let this document from the FDA guide a more rational thought process:
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 01, 2015 6:31 AM GMT
    Now, in an effort to continue to think clearly, and do real research, let's compare that to a non-stop airplane ride:

    I hope this helps you to think about CT scans, and medical radiology in a more informed way, and I also encourage you to use such tools as google (a popular search engine) to examine facts around these things.

    There's your answer.

    As you can clearly see, in many instances, a non-stop flight exposes you to nearly 4 times as much radiation.

    No doctor, or medical institution, wants to get sued for not doing what's called "highest standard of care." Yours...included.

    Of course, these are all things you can do on your own. Just need a computer and a search engine! :-)
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Sep 01, 2015 7:17 PM GMT
    CLTMike46 saidCome to RealJock message boards for all your medical needs.

    We also offer:

    Nutritionists/body shamers
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    It's your one stop shop for all things more complicated than they ought to be!icon_biggrin.gif
  • metta

    Posts: 44446

    Sep 01, 2015 7:50 PM GMT
    lol icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 02, 2015 3:59 PM GMT
    MRI's are for larger scans that comprise the entire body or parts of the vertebrae. CT scans are for only small areas. You are in no way exposed to radiation, maybe alot of Electro-magnetism.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 02, 2015 7:24 PM GMT
    Domino_dancer saidMRI's are for larger scans that comprise the entire body or parts of the vertebrae. CT scans are for only small areas. You are in no way exposed to radiation, maybe alot of Electro-magnetism.

    MRI's can be used for specific areas of the body just like a CT scan, and a full body CT scan can be done as well. Where I work, MRI's of the brain and cardiovascular system are ordered frequently.
  • carew28

    Posts: 849

    Oct 11, 2015 11:35 PM GMT
    Thanks for all of the above replies. I just thought I'd post an update about things.

    Since my original post, I went to a different medical clinic, and saw a different doctor, and asked for a referral for an MRI. She first ordered a copy of my ultrasound from the V.A. Hospital, which took about a week, but then she gave me a referral for an MRI at the radiology dept. of a local hospital.

    I had the MRI on Sept.11, and the results were sent back to the doctor at the new Medical Clinic that I went to. They showed multiple simple kidney cysts, including one that's hemorrhagic (bleeds), but I was told that simple cysts are common in people my age, and nothing to worry about, even if they occasionally bleed a little.

    However, the MRI also showed a complex cyst on my left kidney. That is something to be concerned about. The new doctor, on her own initiative, referred me to a Urology Physicians' Group. I had that appointment on Oct. 9, and saw a Physicians Asst. there. I brought a copy of the MRI with me, on a disk. The Physicians' Asst. showed it to one of the Urologists, and she also had me give another urine sample.

    She said the complex cyst on my left kidney could possibly be cancerous, based upon its appearance, but most likely isn't. It's classified as a Bosniak IIF cyst, which could be either benign or cancerous. She's recommending I get a cystoscopy (looking at the cyst through some sort of microscopic camera), and then have follow-up ultrasounds every 6 months, to monitor the cyst, to see if it's staying the same (which would be a good sign), or growing (which wouldn't be good, and would require its surgical removal). So I guess that this monkey is going to be on my back for a few years to come, but I can live with it. It's just part of getting older, which happens to everyone.

    I'm glad I opted for an MRI instead of a CT Scan, even though it meant changing health-care providers and getting a new primary-care physician, which took an extra month. I actually did do a lot of research online before my original post, as well as talking to the V.A. radiologist. The physicians' asst. at the Urology Clinic said the MRI image was excellent, as good as a CT Scan image would have been, and I was able to avoid the extra radiation. If there had been some necessary reason to have a CT Scan, I'd have done it. But since an MRI was equally appropriate in my case for a kidney cyst, I'm glad that I insisted upon it.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4945

    Oct 12, 2015 4:48 AM GMT
    Originally the MRI scan (magnetic resonance image) was called an NMR scan (nuclear magnetic resonance). However, because some people were scared of anything with the word "nuclear" in it, they changed the name.