What Is The Differences between X-Ray and MRI?

What are the main differences between X-ray and MRI? The former uses radiations to scan the body whereas the latter uses radioactive waves and magnetic fields. 

X-Ray and MRI are medical equipment meant for capturing images in the body. The medical doctor uses these gadgets to help in determining the source of complicated health problems.

But the physician will also use medical history, blood tests, and physical examinations to evaluate the health condition. 

Medical imaging is crucial when evaluating and understanding the root cause of illness or pain in the body. X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, and computed tomography are involved. 

Both X-ray and MRI are image testing contacted by doctors on a patient according to the state of the patient at that particular time. These tools are used for different purposes.

This article provides detailed insights into the differences between X-ray and MRI. Take the time to read through and learn more about their side effects on the body. 

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10 Differences between X-Ray and MRI (With Table)

What Is X-Ray?

X-ray is a sophisticated body scan that is widely used in many hospitals due to its availability. They produce radiations that pass through the body, bone, and other objects to reveal any problem.

An X-ray film is normally whitish and it tends to display less dense tissue in grey color. These tissues in the body are hard to see from an x-ray film sometimes.

The x-rays are not harmful to an individual but they are limited. Many doctors tend to take precautions in the case of a pregnant mother.

The body is usually positioned between photographic film and an X-ray machine. The patient needs to stay still as the machine sends radiation through the body.

The most common conditions in the body that need X-ray services are tumors, fractures, bone regeneration, and infections.

Functions of X-Ray

  • Visualizing bones, organs, and structures in the body for diagnoses.
  • Examining teeth and oral structures to detect dental issues.
  • Scanning luggage and items for potential threats.
  • Checking for defects in manufactured components and structures.
  • Inspecting materials and infrastructure for weaknesses.
  • Analyzing composition and structure of materials.
  • Examining artifacts and artwork non-invasively.
  • Inspecting packages and identifying contraband.
  • Studying atomic and molecular structures.
  • Targeting cancer cells with high-energy X-ray radiation.
  • Studying cosmic phenomena like black holes.
  • Analyzing samples for elements and pollutants.
  • Detecting contaminants and defects in food products.
  • Studying fossils without damage to reveal hidden details.
  • Assessing integrity of electronic components.

What Is MRI?

MRI is a diagnostic imaging testing tool that uses both the magnetic field and radioactive waves to form a detailed cross-section of the body image.

The procedure is only applied in the region of the body that needs some examination. The radioactive waves and magnetic fields cause the fat and water molecules to resonate in the bones or tissue to result in a computer-generated image.

A clear image of lesser tissues like ligaments, bones, blood vessels, disc, and cartilage is produced when using an MRI body scan.

The process normally takes about 90 minutes and the patient is given intravenous drugs that help to result in body tissues visible.

Functions of MRI

  • Detailed images of soft tissues and organs for diagnosis.
  • Brain and spinal cord visualization for neurological conditions.
  • Joint and bone assessment for injuries and disorders.
  • Heart and blood vessel evaluation.
  • Organ analysis for disease detection.
  • Reproductive and urological condition diagnosis.
  • Complementary tool for breast cancer detection.
  • Captures brain activity during tasks.
  • Reveals brain connectivity and stroke effects.
  • Assesses tissue blood flow and viability.
  • Tracks specific molecules for research and diagnostics.
  • Analyzes tissue chemical composition.
  • Real-time imaging for surgeries and biopsies.
  • Explores brain function and medical conditions.
  • Tracks therapy effects over time.
  • Non-invasive kids’ assessment.
  • Diagnoses health issues in animals.

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Main Differences between X-Ray and MRI 

  1. X-rays use radiations to provide a film of the body part while MRI uses both radioactive waves and magnetic fields.
  2. X-rays produce radiations that are ionizing when exposed to it for a long time while MRI does not emit any form of radiation.
  3. MRI body scan is suitable for soft tissues whereas X-rays are ideal for tough tissues like bones
  4. MRI scan provides a detailed report of soft tissues but an X-ray scan does not.
  5. X-rays provide a detailed report of bones as compared to MRI scans.
  6. MRI scan is highly versatile as compared to X-rays.
  7. MRI scan is normally too expensive while X-rays scan are affordable
  8. X-rays radiations cause birth defect in the pregnancy while MRI does not
  9. MRI examination takes a long time like 90 minutes while X-rays are a matter of seconds and you are done.

Similarities between X-Ray and MRI

  1. Both give detailed images
  2. Both use radiations
  3. Both are done in the hospital by experts 
  4. Both help to identify health problems

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Can an MRI Show that an X-ray Can’t?

Show detailed information on soft tissue injuries like torn ligaments. X-rays tend to show bone fractures only. MRI provides tend to dig deeper for less obvious injuries. 

  • Which is a More Dangerous X-ray or MRI?

X-ray is the most dangerous imaging. Radiation tends to have a negative impact on body tissues. MRI does not produce any radiation. It is considered to be the safest medical imaging procedure. 

  • Does an MRI Scan Show Nerve Damage?

MRI is quite sensitive to changes in cartilage and bone structure causing disease, injuries, or aging. Hence they have the power to detect pinched nerves, spinal tumors, herniated discs, spinal cord compression, and fractures.

  • Is MRI More Expensive than an X-ray?

MRI is more expensive than an x-ray. Medical image scanning takes a lot of time but provides a piece of comprehensive information about a health problem. 

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X-ray and MRI are crucial terms highly used in medical offices. These two body scan tools perform different tasks meant for different purposes.

However, they are key imaging tests that often happen in hospitals across the world and it is good to learn about their differences.

Hope the guide was useful and helpful. Use the comment section below and share with us your views regarding the two body scans.

More Sources and References

  1. X-ray and MRI Facts:  Lincoln Orthopaedic Center 
  2. Dangers of Medical Imaging. Doctors Imaging
  3. MRI for Cancer. American Cancer Society 

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