Every patient and every injury is different. Many factors such as the how the injury occurred, extent of damage, health of the patient, and condition of the effected area are all considered during treatment. Your doctor will be able to recommend a treatment plan and can decide how to view your injury either with an X-Ray, MRI, or CT scan.
Here is a brief rundown of each of the major type of medical imaging and when they used.
This is often the first procedure a doctor will schedule for an injury, mainly injuries from sports and falls. X-rays are the oldest and most commonly used method of medical imaging. Along with broken bones, X-rays are also used for viewing arthritic joints and determining the location and condition of cancer cells in the bones. X-ray procedures are safe, fast, and allow for a quick injury assessment when determining severity and a treatment plan.
MRI scans are performed if the injury cannot be properly determined from an X-ray or if your injury pertains to any of the joint, muscular or skeletal systems of the body. MRI scans are used to determine if an injury has caused internal bleeding, blood clots, or other vascular damage. These scans are performed when your doctor needs additional information about your injury that cannot be determined from an X-Ray or CT Scan. MRI scans can determine the amount of damage to the body beyond what an X-Ray can show. A contrast dye material is interested intravenously which can cause a slight bit of pain. This material creates a cooling sensation in the body and will not cause a reaction unless the patient is allergic to iodine.
Your doctor may also order a CT scan.
CT scans often signify major injuries, especially those in the head. Your doctor ordering a CT scan does not mean you have a serious injury. Your doctor could just be trying to get the best angles and images in order to make the most thorough diagnosis and by extension the best medical plan for mending your injury. Your doctor may order a CT scan CT with a contrast material similar to the MRI contrast dye. This allows the highlighting of cross-sectional images of organs and tissues. These images show the comparision between healthy and unhealthy tissues. CT scans might are relatively painless as well, excluding the pinprick of the IV needle, but in some cases, the contrast material is swallowed to outline the digestive system.