CT & MRI: “I was in the tube for examination”

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What happens on a CT?

"I was in the tube for an examination" - often ignorance between CT and MRI and the high radiation doses

In a recent case, radiation exposure through computer tomography has become an issue in Germany. "Spiegel Online" reported on October 13, 2009 about an incident at a hospital in Los Angeles. Here the CT scanner had been set incorrectly and the radiation exposure was eight times the normal dose. It is therefore not surprising that 40% of those affected suffered from hair loss and skin changes, because a CT anyway shows 100 to 1000 times the radiation exposure of a normal X-ray examination.

In early October, radiologist Christoph Heyer, who worked at the Bochum University Clinic, pointed out in the interview with the "Stern" the underestimated risk of radiation from CT devices. Heyer explained that referring doctors know too little about radiation exposure and his clinic will even publish a study within a few weeks, according to which only 26% of pediatricians are aware of the connection between radiation exposure and malignant tumors. According to his statements in Germany, the proportion of radiation exposure from CT devices is now over 50%, although the CT examinations only make up 8%!

Medical experts have often indicated that many CT examinations are unnecessary because ultrasound or MRI examinations also provide satisfactory diagnoses of internal organs and their changes. If broken bones or other injuries are suspected, e.g. T. X-ray examinations completely sufficient.

As became clear from the case of the incorrectly set computer tomograph in Los Angeles, the devices in this country, according to Christoph Heyer, are often set incorrectly. But in addition to educating healthcare professionals, educating patients is just as important. "I was in the tube" is a frequently found statement from patients after a CT or MRI examination. It is not clear to many that there is a serious difference between the devices and methods.

CT is X-rays from a rotating tube, MRI (magnetic resonance tomography) or nuclear spin is a magnetic field that is excited from the outside by radio waves. A magnetic field needs molecules that react to this magnetic field, if this is not the case, for example, in the lungs, then another method such as X-ray or CT is the method of choice. The MRI scanner generally takes pictures with clearer and stronger contrasts, but is very expensive. The strong magnetic field makes it unsuitable for patients with metal parts in the body or pacemakers. Since the long examination time in the narrowed tube is also uncomfortable for many patients, there are a few fully-open devices in Germany (so-called Upright ™ MRI) with which you can take pictures while lying, sitting and standing on the open device. MRI scans are more expensive than CT examinations, which is probably one of the reasons why this examination is used cautiously. (sb)

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Video: What happens during a MRI examination? Kids explain for kids and teens

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