This is a common procedure, which exposes the patient to a small level of ionising radiation. As such, it should be requested appropriately. It is interesting that several years ago, the Royal College of GP’s issued guidance saying that routine x-rays of the lower back for back pain was not indicated, unless significant disease was suspected, something osteopaths have been saying for years. We mainly use it for imaging of the skeletal structure.
This is a quick, non-invasive procedure; commonly used for gynaecological issues, vascular screening and now increasingly musculoskeletal disorders.
Does not involve the use of ionising radiation, so is considered less invasive than x-ray or CT scanning. It takes much longer, 30-45 minutes, and is much more expensive; although it does give great detail when conditions that cannot be seen on x-ray, such as a prolapsed disc, are suspected.
This does involve the use of ionising radiation and is sometimes used instead of MRI for several reasons, one being the part of the body that is being scanned. However, the procedure is much quicker than MRI. We are increasingly requesting Coronary Calcium Scans (a CT of the coronary arteries surrounding the heart); it is a very quick procedure (less than a few minutes) and a very helpful tool for cardiovascular risk management.