What is an MRI Scan? And How is it Different from an Ultrasound?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is a specific scan that creates detailed images of what’s inside the body using high magnetic fields and radio waves. It can be used to examine organs, tissues, and the skeletal system in a noninvasive manner.

MRI checks don’t include radiation, as X-rays and CT scans do. With a strong magnet, MRI can temporarily alter the positions of hydrogen atoms already present in the body.

Depending on the type of tissue they are in, the hydrogen atoms produce varying amounts of energy as they move back to their regular positions. The scanner records this energy, and a computer uses it to create a picture. This has no long-term consequences on your body or health.

The MRI scanner often resembles a big tube with a table in the centre that the patient can slide into.

Almost any body part can be examined using an MRI scan, including the following:

  • Spinal cord and brain
  • Breasts
  • Bones and joints
  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Internal organs such as kidneys, liver, or uterus

An MRI scan’s findings can be used to diagnose illnesses, assign treatments, and assess the success of prior therapies.

MRI vs UltraSound. How are they different?

Both MRI and Ultrasound can occasionally be used for the same purposes. Learning about the distinctions between them and their respective strengths and limits can make you better understand the reasons behind your doctor’s choice.

Let’s look at some of the significant distinctions between the two:

Diverse Technological Approaches

Both Ultrasound and MRI allow medical professionals to view within the body without using radiation. 

MRI achieves this by employing a strong magnet to arrange the body’s water molecules so that the scanner can recognise and convert them into a three-dimensional (3D) image of what’s happening within the body. 

On the other hand, ultrasound technology sends high-frequency sound waves through the body, and an image is formed by visualising the echoes.

Scanning Powers and Restrictions

Both ultrasound and MRI can help examine the health of organs and soft tissues. 

However, ultrasound waves do not travel properly through bone and gas. As a result, MRI or other imaging techniques are typically advised when medical professionals need to see what’s happening inside or behind bone structures or air-filled organs like the lungs or bowel.

The benefit of an ultrasound exam is that it produces images swiftly and in real-time, making it simple to see movement. On the other hand, MRI pictures are usually static and take a long time to capture, but they show more information.


Sometimes, one method is chosen over another because one of the choices is contraindicated for a specific reason. 

The benefit of ultrasound is that there is no known danger to human health. Although MRI is considered a reasonably safe treatment, it has some hazards that may make it non-suitable for some people. Patients with ferromagnetic implants, such as specific medical devices or shrapnel, may experience risks from MRI since it uses a very strong magnet to produce images.

Patient Sensitivity

Some patients find it challenging to tolerate MRI tests because of discomfort and physical or psychological restrictions, including claustrophobia and anxiety. The equipment might seem confined since the patient must lie still for long periods. 

We hope this blog helped clear up your doubts about MRI and how it differs from ultrasound. 

If you require an MRI scan, are concerned about the procedure, or have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Beacon Medical. Our healthcare professionals are here to assist and support you.


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