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What you need to know before a CT or MRI scan

Aug 03, 2007 04:42 PM IST India India

New Delhi: CT scans and MRI tests are commonly used to scan for heart trouble, bone disorders or irregularities with the nervous system.

They can prove more accurate than regular X-Rays or ultrasound tests, as they provide doctors with more information, especially when it comes to the heart and the brain.

However, they are not always your first line of diagnosis, so first things first, you need to ask some questions.

Ask your doctor why you need the test and how is it going to add to your diagnosis or treatment for sometimes tests can be prescribed at without any specific reason.

Next, you need to ask what are the risks and side effects of these tests?

Both the CT scan and the MRI expose you to certain levels of radiation and a recent virtual study in the US finds that the amount of radiation used in CT scans may lead to cancer.

Although, this risk is often outweighed by the benefits of early detection of disease, one should not be exposed to radiation for no reason.

Most importantly, you need to know which is the best place for the study to be done and then finally, when do you need it done?

There are private and public sector options -- both of which have their pros and cons.

Nonetheless, these are expensive tests, so one should keep in mind that one can question your doctor on them.