Clinical guidance for MRI referral

Use of MRI

Effective uses of MRI

MRI is only effective when it supplements history and physical examination and when it is likely to improve the health outcome for the patient.

Although able to offer detailed images, MRI scanning is not always the most appropriate imaging.4 In many cases, a physical examination by an experienced practitioner is able to provide an equal or better diagnosis than an MRI scan and at a substantially lower cost.

MRI is often the first imaging choice for many brain and spinal cord conditions, due to its superior detail. However, in emergency situations or when looking for bony abnormalities (e.g. occult spine fractures), computed tomography (CT) is usually recommended due its speed and superior imaging of bone.

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