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A 42-year-old member asked:

What can a ct scan of the brain catch that a brain mri scan cannot?

4 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. Christopher Phillips
Neurology 26 years experience
Bright stuff !!: A ct of the brain is really good at visualizing highly calcified objects (think x-rays) such as bone. Blood can be visualized in areas where it should not be like the subarachnoid space. Ct's are great for visualizing acute bleeds such as might result from trauma.
Dr. Julian Bragg
Neurology 17 years experience
Also, very fast!: Agree with excellent answer above. Additionally, ct scans have the advantage of being much faster than MRI scans, and they are much more widely available- if you come into a small hospital's er at 3 in the morning, they will likely be able to do a ct immediately, while an MRI might wait until the next morning (if it is available at all!).
Dr. Carl Decker
Radiology 24 years experience
Not much: Perhaps detecting a skull fracture or bony abnormality (like in the temporal bone). Mri is more sensitive than ct in detecting stroke, most hemorrhage and tumors. That being said, ct is often done first because it is fast and available 24/7.
Dr. Peter Nefcy
Radiology 39 years experience
Depends: The most common reason for an immediate CT scan in the Emergency Room is to evaluate for abnormal bleeding onto the brain. Time is critical for a patient with bleeding into the brain, and a CT scan may take less than one minute to perform, while an MRI may take up to 30 minutes. Bone imaging with CT is also better than MRI at times. MRI imaging is better than CT of the brain for many diseases.

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A 37-year-old member asked:

Could a mri/ct scan detect all brain injurys?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Eric Weisman
Neurology 36 years experience
Nope: Sometimes you can see evedence of bleeding. With traumatic brain injury sufficient to cause changes on ct typically survival is markedly reduced. Certain types of MRI done at the right time following a brain injury can sometimes show evidence of cerebral contusion. Much of the damage done with traumatic brain injury is microscopic (too small even with diffuse axonal injury) to be seen on mri.
San Francisco, CA
A 38-year-old male asked:

What does a brain MRI show that CT scan doesn't?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Steven Simon
A Verified Doctoranswered
A US doctor answeredLearn more
Tissue views: While CT scans show bone (fractures) better than MRI, the newer technologies with MRI will show tissues ( think stroke, multiple sclerosis, small tumors or aneurysms) better, and may show real time activity from circulation as well. Side benefit is no radiation from MRI compared to CT.

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Last updated Mar 16, 2021

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