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Old 06-05-2004, 12:19 PM   #1
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CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

I was in auto accident in my 20's and my neck was whiplashed of course - garbage truck rear-ended me going 50! Peeled my MG auto from around me - only me and the seat I was sitting in were left! Rescue didn't bother to try to get me out because they figured I was dead!

Anyway I have had recurrent back pain which was diagnosed as myofascial pain syndrome - pain I suppose that refers down the right side of my back, but my arm/shoulder really seems to be the culprit - I also played softball when I was young (first base) and I really think the pain I am experiencing all the time under my right shoulder blade comes from overextending my arm throwing the ball!! If I am perfectly still and don't walk, it doesn't hurt, but as soon as I go for a walk, oh brother feels like a burning pain in the same place. I know arthritic pain you are supposed to move the area, but this seems to hurt when I use my arm. Sitting at a desk, computer of course wreaks havoc and I take IB infrequently as well as SOMA which makes me "zombieish" usually at night when I know I can rest.

My question is should I spend the $ for a CT scan or MRI and what is the difference? If my arm has been overextended, is there any repair surgery for this? It is so debilitating to be in pain every day already -- not young 55 but feel more like a dicrepid 80!!! Heating pad helps, but I am sick of "riding it"! Thanks!
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Old 06-05-2004, 07:34 PM   #2
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Re: CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

[QUOTE=divadebi]Anyway I have had recurrent back pain which was diagnosed as myofascial pain syndrome - pain I suppose that refers down the right side of my back, but my arm/shoulder really seems to be the culprit - I also played softball when I was young (first base) and I really think the pain I am experiencing all the time under my right shoulder blade comes from overextending my arm throwing the ball!! If I am perfectly still and don't walk, it doesn't hurt, but as soon as I go for a walk, oh brother feels like a burning pain in the same place. I know arthritic pain you are supposed to move the area, but this seems to hurt when I use my arm. Sitting at a desk, computer of course wreaks havoc and I take IB infrequently as well as SOMA which makes me "zombieish" usually at night when I know I can rest. [B][COLOR=DarkRed]Have you had any diagnostic testing done on just your shoulder? Remember how all these muscles and tendons are hooked togther. It sounds more like you have a tear in the shoulder. On the other hand, neck disc problems can cause extreme shoulder and mid-back problems. Personally, I'd ask my doc for a MRI of the cervical spine and of the affected shoulder.
How far can you lift your arm? Lift straight in front of your body, then to the side away from your body.[/COLOR][/B]
My question is should I spend the $ for a CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?
Both tests provide detailed pictures of areas of the body that used to be inaccessible by conventional x-rays. Therefore, 20 - 25 years ago, exploratory or invasive surgery may have been required. CT scans give us excellent information on anatomical fea tures and tissue density (this allows for the detection of tumors, and sometimes the ability to distinguish between malignant and benign tumors). CT scans can also detect calcium deposits, cysts, and abscesses. They are often used in place of ultrasound for obese patients because fat deposits often hinder ultrasonic waves. CT scanning does carry with it the risks associated with x-ray exposure, although it is significantly less than that from ordinary x-rays.

On the other hand, MRI has no known associated health risks. However, people with pacemakers, aneurysm clips, or other implants that contain magnetic materials are generally advised not to undergo MRI testing. What can be learned from MRIs is, generally , more sophisticated and detailed than from CT scanning. MRI is best put to use in examining the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It can also be used to identify tumors, strokes, degenerative diseases, inflammation, infection, and oth er abnormalities in organs and other soft tissue of the body. One last major difference is cost -- MRIs cost a lot more than CT scans.

If my arm has been overextended, is there any repair surgery for this? [B][COLOR=DarkRed]Yes, there is available surgery to correct this. If its just a cause of a tendon or ligament being stretched out too far, they can shorten it. If its a muscle tear, that can be repaired also.[/COLOR][/B] It is so debilitating to be in pain every day already -- not young 55 but feel more like a dicrepid 80!!! Heating pad helps, but I am sick of "riding it"! Thanks![/QUOTE]

 
Old 06-11-2005, 09:59 PM   #3
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Re: CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

In my understanding, a CT scan shows what is going on with your bones. An MRI shows what is going on with your soft tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. Hope that helps. Deb

 
Old 06-12-2005, 09:30 AM   #4
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Re: CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

I have had both MRIs and CT scans. MRI's show a more general picture and tend to look for hard structures and irregularties such as tumors.

CT scans are very fast slices. Totally different approach.If you get one with contrast, it might show some damage.

Neither show muscle or ligament damage or nerve damage.

The MRI can show if a nerve is being impinged on.

My CT scan showed more than my MRI did.

I would have an EMG if you suspect nerve involvment.

 
Old 06-12-2005, 11:23 AM   #5
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Re: CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

I think it's worth it to have the MRI. I had a CT scan recently which clearly showed stenosis but the MRI I had a few days ago also showed (so clearly) a reherniation--it's just a much clearer picture where you can see, in my case anyway, the disc impinging the nerve root. On the other hand, many neurologists were trained before MRI's became available and can see what they need to with a CT scan. But if you can afford it an MRI will give you the most information. Good Luck.

 
Old 07-28-2009, 03:32 PM   #6
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Re: CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

Thanks to you all for your replies and input. I just read up on a facility that provides laser surgery for bulging discs in a city near where I live. I think I should have a CT on my thoracic area where the shoulder/scapula pain is to rule out another separate injury. The scary thing about cervical bulging discs is paralysis. My focus, obviously is on the cervical injury, although the pain is further down.

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Old 07-29-2009, 07:47 AM   #7
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Re: CT scan or MRI and what is the difference?

i am just wondering what actual types of scans they did following that MVA in the ER or after? usually when you hit the ER they will only do a CT because of the possibility of having imbedded metal somewhere. what were the level of your overall injuries back then,or what were you told? that can matter alot now.

the thing about MRI is it would show pretty clearly any level of rotator cuff damage just having that shoulder done. my MRI clearly showed all my tendon damage which included a fully snapped top tendon the one that runs across from base of neck to top of shoulder(supraspinatus),and the one directly underneath that one which was only partially torn. i also had just a ton of really bad wear and tear damage too and bone spurring within that main joint. but muscle tendon and ligaments do show very well upon MRI. contrast added during the MRI also really helps to also highlight certain areas better too.

considering what forces were simply involved in that accident you had, alot of different things could have been injured or simply started an ongoing process of deterioration too. alot of people, myself included, have c spine AND rotator cuff injuries too. i too played alot of softball and did bowling for many years along with just the nature of my job which was a ff/emt. that really messed up alot of things in my body, badly.

my c spine mess showed itself back in 01 but some of the symptoms i had were(did not know this at the time)also stemming from a certain level of rotator cuff damage i had accumulated over the years too. right now i really do think you obtaining an MRI on both that rotator cuff area along with the c spine too would really show alot of what could be bigger issues. the thing here is, every nerve that innervates along down that arm start at the cord within the lower c spine area that actually run thru some areas of that rotator cuff too. so anything is really possible when you are feeling pain there. in most cases, shoulderblade pain is actually stemming more from that low end of the c spine and into just the first or second t spine vertebrae in most cases and not actually lower down to the thorasic areas. its the way things are just innervated in there.

but thoroughly checking out that rotator and that c spine which naturally also picks up about the first four to five T spine verteberae as well, really would give you and your doc the best possible look into the possible generator areas. the one thing my ortho told me when i had my rotator repairs done was that this particular area is the one they actually do the most ortho surgeries on. just that rotator area since it takes ALOT of wear and tear over the years just during daily living. it gets used and abused alot more since we are almost constantly moving our arms and sometimes in very non safe ways when we lift things or are playing sports? stuff like that just will take its toll after many years. but that top tendon is also the one most commonly torn first when someone presents with rotator cuff tears. just another tidbit of info for ya. i personally know of four other people besides myself, who also had to undergo rotator repars within the last few years. its a very common place for injury.

just see your primary for an eval and a run thru on those ROMS with the shoulder and see about getting the c spine and the rotator MRIed at the same visit on the same referral, this would save some money, time and hassle just doing it this way too. those two particular areas can just have alot of overlapping types of symptoms when they are both involved with some level of injury. thats exactly how mine was. once you obtain both those MRIs, that will kind of dictate any steps from there. you just really NEED to know what areas are actually producing your symptoms. just do NOT settle for only a CT. it just will NOT show down to the very important cord/nerve level of the c spine or the full areas that could be involved within that rotator either. no good surgeon would ever rely solely upon any CT for those areas if they had to actually do any surgery either, most definitely NOT with that c spine. just not enough info/detail there. i do wish you luck with this and hope your doc will refer you for both areas to be MRIed. please keep us posted. marcia
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