If you sustain certain injuries, one of the first things that will happen when you go to the doctor is they will order an X-ray of the injured area. As effective as X-rays can be at helping a physician see what is going on with the skeletal system, an X-ray does have its limitations. Therefore, many doctors will follow up an X-ray with an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for a more thorough diagnosis of the problem. While many patients understand that an MRI is much more in-depth, most patients have no idea just what magnetic resonance imaging can show that an X-ray will not. Here's a look at the differences.
An MRI will pick up on problems with connective tissue.
Connective tissue damage can be just as problematic as fractures, but connective tissue problems can be hard to find on a general X-ay in a lot of cases. With an MRI, the connective tissue is far more visible between bones, joints, and other parts of the skeletal system. For instance, if you have issues with a bulging disc between your vertebrae or a torn tendon in your knee, the MRI will do a better job of showing the doctor specifically where the problem lies and how severe the problem is. X-ray imaging can show connective tissue problems, but not in the same amount of detail.
An MRI will show issues with fluid retention.
Fluid can show up on an X-ray if there is a large amount of it present in one localized area. For example, if you have pneumonia or fluid in your lungs, and X-ray will usually capture limited imagery of the fluid that is present. However, an MRI will give a closer look at areas where the fluid is being retained in the body. The radiologist will be able to look at the MRI scans and see how much fluid is present and exactly where it stops and begins.
An MRI will find tiny fractures and breaks.
Most X-rays will do a good job of picking up cracks and fractures in bones, but an X-ray will not always pick up the smaller or less dramatic breaks. Therefore, it is not uncommon for someone who is suspected of having a broken bone to only find out that they do after they have had an MRI. The MRI is capable of producing a more contrasted image than an X-ray, which will help smaller skeletal damages show up.
For more information on MRIs, contact a company like Kenai Peninsula Imaging Center, LLC.