Anatomical Guide for Ordering MRI and CT Studies

MRI is the definitive imaging technique for evaluation of the brain in almost every circumstance.

CT can provide complete evaluation of the majority of intracranial diseases, i.e. tumors, strokes, acute hemorrage, hydrocephalus.

Cervical & Thoracic Spine MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Best detail evaluation of degenerative spondylosis, i.e. uncovetrebral osteophytic ridging & spurring, degenerative facet diseas    
Chiari malformation    
Disc disease (dehydration, bulging, herniation)    
Extrinsic lesions compressing the spinal cord    
Intrinsic spinal cord lesions (syrinx, cord tumor, hemorrhage, edema, MS plaques)    
Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy    
Neuralforaminal stenosos & spurring    
Soft tissue masses & abscesses    
Spinal arteriovenous malformations    
Spinal canal stenosis    
Vertebral body lesions (metastasis, hemangioma, osteomyelitis, etc.)    
Vertebral fractures & facet dislocations    
Head and Neck MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Erosion of the skull base    
Laryngeal tumors, Nasopharyngeal tumors    
Lesions involving the brachial plexus    
Neck masses, Parotid Masses    
Soft tissue tumors of the neck and adenopathy    
tumors of the Larynx    
Tumors of the Skull Base    
Hip MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Avascular necrosis    
Define fractures & dislocations    
Effusions (septic joint, or trauma)    
LLiopsoas bursitis    
Knee MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Anterior & posterior cruciate ligament injury    
Asscess degree of internal meniscal degeneration (age-related trauma)    
Chondromalacai patella    
Collateral ligament injury    
Identify loose bodies in the joint    
Joint effusions    
Meniscal tears    
Osteochondral fractures    
Popliteal masses    
Synovial cysts    
Lumbar Spine MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Best detail for evaluation of degenerative spondylosis, i.e. osteophytic ridging, degenerative facet disease, facet hypertrophy    
Bone Tumors    
Degenerative disease limited to the disc and vertebral endplate, without bulging, or herniation    
Differentiation of postsurgical scar from recurrent disc (especially effective with Gd-DTPA)    
Disc Disease (dehydration, bulging, herniation)    
Discitis    
Distinction between postoperative scarring & recurrent disc herniation (may use IV contrast material)    
Evaluation of paravertebral soft tissue tumors & abcesses    
Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy    
Nerve root compression, or displacement    
Nutral foraminal spurring and stenosis    
Postoperative Hematomas    
Pseudomeningocele    
Soft tissu masses & abscesses    
Spinal canal stenosis    
Spondylolisthesis    
Systematic diseases affective the bone marrow    
Musculoskeletal Region MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Bone Tumors    
Detailed evaluation of superficial & deep soft tisue masses    
TMJ MRI Preferred CT Preferred Both Suggested
Evaluate condylar erosion/evaluate fracture of condyle or glenoid fossa    
Meniscal degeneration or sublucation    
TMJ pain