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Difference between X-ray and MRI

X-ray and MRI

The headway in technology helped doctors and other health activists quickly diagnose several diseases. Nowadays, various diagnostic tools are used to detect or narrow down the root causes of ailments, of which X-ray and MRI are the most common.

Therefore, we displayed this article to let you grasp the knowledge of both medical imaging technology terms comprehensively.

Tabular Differences Chart

Basis of
Exposure to
Harmful ionizing
radiations observed
radiations seen
Time for
Scan Completion
Within few secondsCan be 10-15 min.
or 2 hours
of Application
The attenuated X-rays generates
a shadow on the image
Body tissues containing hydrogen
atoms assist in emitting radio signals,
which the scanner detects
ApplicationsUsed for examination of broken bones,
identifying diseased tissues, etc.
To estimate soft tissue, such as injury
to the ligaments/tendons, spinal cord,
brain tumors, etc.
Imaging Plane
Bony Structural
Detailed photographs of bone
structure on photographic film
Less detailed
After EffectsCapable of causing congenital
disabilities and diseases, and
can also change the DNA
No prominent biological
dangers reported
Soft Tissue DetailsHelps observe bones and
other dense tissues
Provides details of soft tissue
Application ScopeOnly detects a couple
of body issues
More versatile, and helps examine
a variety of medical conditions
Image SpecificationDifferentiate soft tissues
and bone density
Differentiate numerous soft
tissues types

What is an X-Ray?

Wilhelm Rontgen was a mechanical engineer and physicist who discovered an X-ray tool in the late 1800s. These electromagnetic radiations penetrate structures differently within the body, hence creating images on a photographic film or a fluorescent screen. We generally call them X-rays Diagnostics that are useful for identifying body abnormalities.

This technology is a painless, non-invasive way of helping to detect problems like broken bones, cancers, dental decay, and foreign bodies. X-rays instantly move through the air and soft tissues of the body. Moreover, they are stopped when denser material, such as a tumor, or bone comes into connection. Diagnostic X-rays are held through a painless operation. So, as a result, positioning the exposed body part between a focused x-ray beam and a film-containing plate. The greater the material density through which it passes, the more rays it absorbs. This way, bone absorbs more x-rays than muscle or fat, and tumors can absorb more x-rays than the tissues around.

What is an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a technology that utilizes a vast magnet and non-ionizing radio waves to observe organs. Doctors in hospitals or technicians in medical laboratories typically apply this technique to scan the soft tissues. Furthermore, it helps us study body structure with no documented long-term side effects. Hence, allowing for broad coverage, ongoing acquisitions, child studies, and adolescents. MRI analysis of the entire body is motivated as per the need for exact determinations of phenotype.

MRI levels have complicated automation in AUs (Arbitrary Units), so the results are intensely affected by homogeneity. The technique, however, wasn’t validated in a whole contiguous body, yet the region has not compared results with those of modalities previously validated.

Primary Differences between X-Ray and MRI

We have enlisted the significant differences in detail below, so let’s begin with its pictorial representation.

Pictorial Variation between the Two Techniques


Working Based Difference


X-rays are high-frequency beams (wavelengths ranging between 10 and 0.1 nm) of the electromagnetic spectrum, which can easily pass through low-density material (atomic number) but not through high-density substances. So, solid objects such as kidney stones and bones come out very obvious in the X-Ray picture. Click here to check the kidney stone size chart.


It uses an oscillating magnetic field that is perpendicular to a powerful magnetic theory field. This platform explicitly scans the organ causing issue. Furthermore, the oscillating field in MRI makes magnetization of the hydrogen atoms in a direction perpendicular to the magnetic field of principle. MRI also helps diagnose knee problems, joint pains, and many more, such as:

MRI is a high-speed machine; thus, earplugs or headphones typically support the more bearable sound. 

Functionality Based Difference


X-rays use radiation to present an image of the internal body structure. Besides, we usually employ them for diagnosing and assessing bone degeneration, fractures, dislocations, infections, and tumors.


MRI combines a powerful radio wave magnet (using no radiation) and a computer to create highly detailed images of body structures. The photos appear as cross-sections of the body part being scanned or “slices.” Moreover, MRI scans also assist in treating issues, such as with the bones and joints.

Hazardous Effects Based Difference


The X-ray techniques use heavy and dangerous radiations that obviously pose serious health threats. The long exposure of such radiations to bodies can often lead to producing different types of cancers. Furthermore, bodies undergoing X-ray treatments are more prone to damaged soft tissues. The rays emitting from the tool are so heavy that they can even separate the electrons out of the atoms and produce radical ions. Last but not least, these radiations can change a human body’s DNA, thus, altering its specificity.


On the contrary, MRI is a pretty safe procedure than X-rays. They produce a couple of different cross-sectional images, clicked at the same time. Hence, MRI has a lesser probability of causing complex issues. So far, till now, no biological problem is being reported.

Usability Limitations Based Difference


Despite being a well-established and successful imaging technology, X-ray still appears with usability restrictions. It’s especially prohibited to apply to infants keeping in mind the associated risks.


On the other hand, this technology is restricted to patients with pacemakers or who do not have enough money to afford it. MRI is comparatively an expensive procedure, so experts utilize it less. Otherwise, it has some benefits rather than serious side effects.


We have differentiated the two terms with their beneficial and harmful effects to raise awareness. Still, it’s not up to the patient but the doctor who will tell you which treatment to undergo. The imaging technologies, X-ray, MRI, and CT Scan are commonly used to detect different diseases.

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