About RAIBlog ArchiveDifferent Types of X-ray and MRI Exams: Know Your Testing

Different Types of X-ray and MRI Exams: Know Your Testing


Whether we like it or not, certain medical conditions require testing and scans that can be uncomfortable or sometimes invasive. If a doctor is unable to make a diagnosis with just blood tests and a physical, they may ask you to come to the radiology department for X-ray testing, a CAT scan, or an MRI. Know your tests so you can be prepared for whatever you need to do to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.


This X-ray test is used to determine if there are obstructions in the coronary arteries, and may be conducted if a patient is experiencing chest pain. Contrast material is injected into one of the arteries of the heart.

Barium Enema:

A barium enema, also known as a gastrointestinal (GI) exam, is a type of X-ray examination of the large intestines, including the rectum and colon. The test is used to help diagnose certain disorders and conditions that can affect the large intestine. The colon is filled with a contrast material containing barium to make it visible in the X-ray.

CAT Scan:

A CAT scan, or computed axial tomography, is a noninvasive test used to create multiple X-ray images, which are then used to create a 3D image of the patient’s body structures. It may be performed alone, or with a contrast medium.


MRI, or Magnetic resonance imaging, is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make images of organs and structures inside the body. MRIs are particularly helpful because they tend to give information about the body that an X-ray or ultrasound can’t, and because they can be used to produce images that can be viewed from many different angles. It also requires the body to be placed in a special machine containing a strong magnet. There are different types of MRI machines and each procedure can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. About 30 million MRI scans are performed in the U.S. each year.

The most important thing to remember when undergoing scans or X-rays is to remain calm and trust your radiologist. Your medical team is doing the best they can to provide you with premium care!

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