CT scanners are a popular modality and they come in many sizes, number of slices, accessories, and price ranges.
So, how to choose from the different CT scanner types?
Before we dive into the types of CT scan machines, we need to make this clear.
CT scanners are often compared to MRI scanners. Therefore, before you start choosing a CT scanner, consider checking that you actually need a CT rather than an MRI.
Generally, CTs are more suitable for imaging bones and blood vessels.
On the other hand, MRIs are great at detecting very small changes in soft tissue, joints, ligaments, tendons, the spine, and brain.
Frequently, CT and MRI are used to image the same body area, however, each can provide different types of information about the region of interest.
Bone imaging is a good example – To examine bones, you typically use a regular X-ray for 2D images or a CT scanner for 3D bone imaging. However, when examining bone marrow, MRI scanners will be the best at detecting abnormalities. This is due to their fat and water separation ability.
And in some cases, doctors may recommend an MRI scan if the CT scan is unable to provide all the necessary information. For example, in some cancers, an MRI may better show how deep the tumor has grown into body tissues.
Another difference between a CT and an MRI scanner is the examination speed.
A CT exam is faster, about 5 to 20 minutes, compared to 15 minutes to 2 hours for MRI examinations.
On top of this, MRI machines are noisy and their tube can be claustrophobic, which is why patients generally find them uncomfortable.
Keep in mind the several other factors influencing the price of a CT scanner: