Should I Get an X-Ray, MRI, or CT Scan for My Injury?

Every patient is different as well as every injury. The way people injure themselves, the condition of the affected area prior to the injury, as well as the patient’s response to injury, are all factors in assessing the damage as well as creating a plan for the restoration of the area. If you have obtained an injury you feel you can’t care for on your own, you should speak to your doctor about scheduling a procedure that will be best able to determine the extent of the damage and after you and your physician can discuss plans to heal and avoid further injury. Here is a list of common medical procedures that your doctor may schedule for you in order to determine the degree of injury.

An X-Ray


An X-Ray is usually the first procedure a doctor will schedule for an injury, particularly sports-related injuries. X-rays are some of the oldest and most used forms of medical imaging. X-rays are common procedures for joint and bone fractures and breaks. X-rays are also used for examining arthritic joints and determining the location and condition of cancer cells in the bones. X-ray procedures are totally painless and just require the patient to lay very still for the length of the imaging as the slightest involuntary movement can distort the image and the procedure will have to be restarted. Getting an X-ray will be the fastest way to determine if there has been a bone break, dislocation or fracture.

An MRI Scan

Your doctor may also order an MRI scan 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. An MRI scan would be particularly helpful if your injury has caused any type of vascular problem such as internal bleeding or clotting or if there is soft tissue damage. MRI scans are useful in determining any overall damage from an injury beyond what an X-ray can relate. MRI scans contain a minute amount of pain from an intravenous injection of contrast material but nothing further. Contrast material will not have a reaction in the body excluding a slightly cool sensation unless the patient has an allergy to iodine.

A CT Scan

Your doctor may also order a CT scan for an injury. Do not be confused if your doctor orders a few tests for you. It does not necessarily indicate an extreme amount of physical damage. 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 you a CT scan if he is particularly worried about tissue damage. CT scans using contrast material are able to create cross-sectional images of organs and tissues as well as highlighting which are healthy and which are not. CT scans 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.

Make the Choice

If you have an injury that cannot be helped by over the counter medications and naturalistic healing methods, you should speak to your doctor about ordering some of these procedures because a serious injury left unattended can become a much more harmful problem. Without proper medical attention and testing, a slight injury can morph into a complex affliction. Even with injuries that feel minimal in pain should be examined by a doctor in order to avoid further complications and injury to the area. The advances in medical technology have provided us with the tools and resources to make better choices concerning patient experience and healing.

Making a decision today? Just click here to schedule your medical imaging appointment in New Orleans.

I think I broke a bone. What test should I get?

Humans are not perfectly designed machines. They get sick, fall down and get broken quite easily and more often than they like. Getting broken bones is never fun. It’s painful, may require a hospital visit and can be uncomfortable for several weeks afterward. Auto accidents, sports, and falls are some of the most common ways breaks and fracture occur. Regardless of age, bone fractures and breaks are always alarming because if not properly examined, muscles, ligaments, and nerves can become damaged as well. So after the shock and the excruciating pain of a bone break fades slightly, here are the tests your Radiologist will schedule to determine the extent of your damage.

X-rays

X-rays are the oldest and one of the most commonly used forms of medical imaging. X-rays use small amounts of radiation aimed at the body and in turn, the excited atoms relay the location and density of the internal structures of the body to the X-ray machine. Most facilities and hospitals use digital X-rays today which have much lower doses of radiation if that is a concern of the patient. Bones in particular become very prominent when using this method of medical imaging. Radiologists use X-rays so they can clearly see the area that has been broken, if there is an object lodged within the area or for determining if a patient needs to have surgery. Radiologists will primarily use an X-ray when examining a bone breakage because of the non-invasive nature of the procedure. The most uncomfortable part of this scan will likely be remaining still and relaxed especially if it irritates the area with the bone break. But it is important for patients to remain as still as possible so the image is not distorted.

MRI

In addition to the X-ray, your Radiologist may schedule a CT or MRI to better look at a potentially broken bone. Is this a reason to become worried? Certainly not. Radiologists like to be thorough and patients usually appreciate the extra effort. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a procedure that is commonly used for musculoskeletal disorders and concerns. MRIs use magnetic and radio waves to create their images. There is no radiation used but once again the patient will have to lie down on an examination table in order to have the MRI performed. This can be painful but necessary because when a bone breaks, there can be other damages surrounding break site. In order to determine if there are any ligaments, tendons, or nerves damaged around the break, Radiologists need to see more than just the bone.

Having a broken bone will never be considered an enjoyable experience, but with the advances in medical imaging technology, Radiologists will have more detailed images to help heal their patients. If you have a fracture or break, be sure to ask your doctor if you need these procedures so that you can be sure your therapy and healing process can be completed as quickly as possible.

Did you break your bone in Louisiana? We’ll provide you with the imaging tests you need to know the full extent of your injury. You can schedule an imaging appointment online, or call 504-883-8111. We’re conveniently located in Metairie, LA.