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What Kind Of Tests Might Be Ordered After An Accident?

When you have been in a car wreck or any other type of accident, everything that happens after can be confusing or scary.  One of the questions we regularly ask potential clients is what type of diagnostic tests they have had.  A lot of times people are not sure which tests they have had, and if they do know which tests, they might not know the reasons for the tests.

Three Tests That Might Be Ordered For You

There are three typical tests that people have when they are hurt.  The first test almost any emergency room will run is an X-ray. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation or electromagnetic waves.  While used in many ways in the medical field, including treatment of cancer, the most common way is for taking pictures of bones to look for fractures. The radiation produced can penetrate soft tissue, such as skin, fat, and muscle but does not penetrate bone, resulting in shadowy black and white photos of those bones.  While radiation can help cure cancer, it is also classified as a carcinogen itself, but it is widely accepted in the medical community that the benefits of x-rays far out weight the risks. X-rays would be best used to diagnose broken bones suffered in an accident.

The second test often performed on an injured person is the CT scan. CT scan stands for computed tomography scan. The CT scan is also a type of an x-ray but can be used to create images of bones, internal organs, and soft tissue and blood vessels.  The CT scan can create more detailed images which can be viewed in multiple plans and thus can even generate three dimension images.  While an X-ray uses one straight beam of radiation, the CT scan uses several different beams aimed at one part of the body.  Some describe the CT scan as cutting a loaf of bread into slices in order to see the inside. In some cases, doctors will order a CT scan with contrast, which means a person is either injected with a dye or drinks a dye so that the images produced are more visible and pronounced.  The CT scan is a doughnut-shaped circle a person is pushed through.

CT scans are most commonly used to diagnosis infectious diseases, cancers, trauma, cardiovascular disease or musculoskeletal disorders.  In the context of motor vehicle accidents, the CT scans often can be used to show internal bleeding or injuries to internal organs or broken bones.

The third test ordered by a doctor for persons who are hurt is the MRI.  MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI works by (MRI) using a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body.  For an MRI, patients are typically placed in an enclosed tube for several minutes, sometimes up to 20 min.  As many people are claustrophobic in these enclosed tubes, some centers conducting MRIs have “open” MRIs in which the tube in not completely enclosed.

Similar to the CT scan some times patients are injected or ingest a dye so that an area of the body can be seen more clearly.  MRI’s can show and be used to diagnose disorders or diseases not shown on X-rays or CT scan.  Regarding neck or back injuries, the MRI can be used to show bulging or herniated discs.

Which Test Is Best For Me?

If you are in any type of accident be it a car wreck or slip and fall, and go to the emergency room and report pain to a specific body part, chances are high they will complete an x-ray.  If you are in a significant impact car accident with possible head trauma or suspected trauma to internal organs, you likely will receive a CT scan.  If you have suffered some broken bone or a concussion (which is like a bruise on your brain) these would be diagnosed.  However, if you have suffered a herniated or bulging disc in your neck or back, or a cartilage or muscular tear, these would be missed with those very common test completed at the Emergency Room.  For example, a torn rotator cuff would be best visible on the more precise test of the MRI.  However, in our insurance-driven healthcare many physicians, especially those treating people with no health insurance, will be very reluctant to order an MRI.  If you are in pain, but nothing has been found wrong with an X-ray or CT scan, it may be time to talk to your primary care doctor or a specialist about having an MRI.  You are your best advocate for your medical care, get the tests you need so that you can fully recover from your accident.   If you are not getting the help you need and have questions, contact one of our experienced accident attorneys today.

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