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British Liver Trust
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Ultrasound, MRI, & CT Scan Diagnosis?

My Gastroenterologist told me I did not need a CT or MRI Scan as it will not reveal anything new which my Ultrasound hasn't already picked up? My Ultrasound was clean other than mild fatty liver. What I would like to know is? What would a CT or MRI Scan reveal that an Ultrasound wound not? I am particularly looking for the best scan to find any abnormalities with regards to Portal Hypertension & Varicose Veins (esophageal varices)? Thanks

6 Replies

I could be wrong but I thought an endoscopy is the tool used to look for varices...


Hi that's what I had to check for oesophagus and top of the stomach problems like varices.

Matter of interest I can't have mri's now, but the consultant had to have one of those done a second time a few years ago when he felt something was missing from an mri I'd just had done. The last one confirmed his knowledge because he asked them to check something specific, I don't know what. But it showed that some of my disc was playing Madame guillotine with my spinal cord. He sent me to a spinal cord specialist and I thank his skills that I got the treatment I needed. He did one excellent operation and set the path to make it easier for the specialist to operate and open up the spinal canal. If he had simply relied on the first scan readings I would definitely have been paraplegic and have to rely on catheter and other things. It could still have happened, but he gave me my miracle.

Only saying that to show its not just the different scans that makes the difference it's really the skills of those reading them and their knowledge and experience that makes the difference.




Your gastro would hopefully know at this stage the most suitable scan to request and I would presume has ordered the most apprropriate knowing your history and how you present.

Reading your post made me look up .... ultra sound ct or mri comparison ... in google and it certainly produced quite some interesting details with comparison charts

Ultra sound seems to be the cheapest and shortest, most available, detailed images arent as good as other two, though nowadays pretty good with 3D imaging.

Mri scan.. most expensive, longest, only available in specialised units, least available, has better descriptive & detection powers than ct, scan can be done in any direction not just axially like ct scans. Cant be used if youve got metal implants like stents etc.

CT scan expensive 10 to 45 minutes to do. Most big hospitals can do it. Ionising therefore increase risk of cancer producing. State of art spiral ct gives very detailed images but not as good as mri.CT gives good spatial recognition. Cant have ionising radiation scan if pregnant.

I lost track of the countless number of scans I had years gone by. Endoscopy revealed one very small varicese at juncture into stomach.


I think they are both better than ultrasound which picked up a little bit of fat but MRI and CT picked up all the fat on my liver, MRI was able to determine how big it was. I would push for these tests to be done. I've learnt to be pushy over the years as I've been fobbed off so many times. Please take care. Lots of love Lynne xxxx


Yes I too was fobbed off initially. I spent a few years researching my condition to the point I couldnt be fobbed off any more. The secret is getting on with a specialist hospital.


I had an ultra sound that said my liver was healthy. Then I had a transjugular biopsy, I have stage 4 extensive cirrhosis, nash, portal hypertension, esophageal varices. I won't ever have another US. Now every 6 months I have an MRI to check for cancer.


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