X-rays vs. MRIs
Written by Greg on June 14, 2014
After an automobile accident where a person has sustained an injury they are very likely to be transported to the emergency room by ambulance. Once at the emergency room, the victim usually can expect that someone will take an x-ray of the injured part of the body to ensure there are not broken bones. If the injury is serious enough, the emergency room will also conduct an MRI scan or a CT scan.
These are different medical tools and have different uses to detect medical issues. One trick that insurance defense attorneys use is the “you were discharged” from the hospital with the implication being that they were fine at that point. Emergency rooms are designed to take care of life-threatening and emergency situations and not for aftercare. The vast majority of people who are discharged from the hospital with injuries are asked to follow up with their own physician for necessary follow-up care. Victims also mistakenly assume that since they had x-rays of the hospital everything is fine.
X-rays are actually a type of radiation that passes through the body and is useful for diagnosing fractures and dislocations. MRIs on the other hand, are a computer-aided image that provides very detailed sections or slices of individual body structures.
MRIs are very useful in diagnosing disc problems and injuries after an accident. Many medical providers are hesitant to order an MRI early on as some are worried about reimbursement from the health insurance companies and for other reasons.
A personal injury victim who is experiencing neck or back problems that do not appear to be getting better with conservative treatment may wish to speak to their doctor about ordering an MRI to get to the bottom of the problem. X-rays do not show herniated discs or bulging discs which can be a source of pain and problem for many personal injury victims after a car wreck. It takes a more sophisticated test such as the CT scan or MRI to accurately diagnose a disk issue after a collision.
Generally, while treating physicians may be reluctant to order MRI testing soon after an accident, the earlier of the test is done in relation to the accident date the better for the victim as far as her personal injury claim is concerned. As you might expect, insurance companies will object to injuries diagnosed months after the accident as “unrelated” or not caused by the accident.
Alternatively, insurance companies will complain that the MRI testing was “unnecessary” when done early on after the accident or when the test reveals no permanent problems. The bottom line for personal injury victims is that looking after their own good health should come before everything else and certainly from any consideration about an injury claim. Those people who have pain radiating into the arms or legs should speak with their physicians about the possibility of more sophisticated testing to get to the bottom of the cause of their problems as soon as possible.
Medicine is a complicated subject and speaking directly and candidly with your treating doctors will enable you and your family members to find the most effective care possible.