Patient undergoing MRI scan at hospital

MRI vs X-Ray: Which Is Better After an Accident?

Law Office of James A. Maniatis  July 18, 2023

When you’re injured in an accident and rushed to the emergency room to be examined, one of the first procedures is to take an X-ray to determine if there are any fractures. X-rays, though quick, are not necessarily the most revealing method when it comes to injuries beyond major fractures. An MRI, on the other hand, can spot soft tissue and musculoskeletal conditions that an X-ray cannot.

The danger is that relying solely on an X-ray evaluation can lead to a misdiagnosis, and an injury that needs treating might go without the medical steps needed to produce the proper recovery from your accident. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine estimate that diagnostic errors might be responsible for 160,000 permanent injuries or deaths per year.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in or around Shrewsbury, Southborough, or Webster, Massachusetts, reach out to me at the Law Office of James A. Maniatis. I am a personal injury attorney with more than three decades’ experience. I will advise you of your best course of action in seeking recovery for your injuries and also in being sure you’ve received the most thorough diagnosis. 

I also proudly serve clients throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Westborough, Northborough, Grafton, Boylston, Millbury, Upton, Dudley, and Oxford. 

The Dangers of Not Getting a Complete Diagnosis

People involved in accidents often try to brush off what happened because they don’t immediately feel any pain or detect an obvious injury. An adrenaline rush will often mask anything that happened, and indeed it can be hours, days, and sometimes even weeks later before the problem becomes obvious.

That’s why it’s important to get a medical checkup whenever you’re involved in any type of accident, no matter how you feel initially. Another reason is that, for your insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, you’re going to need to have medical evidence to support your claim. 

An X-ray, because it’s quick and easy compared to an MRI, is usually the first choice for scanning the area of your injury, but it has its limitations, and less obvious injuries may go undetected. You may want to question those attending to you to see if you may need an MRI as well. 

How Do X-Rays Work and What Are Their Limitations?

An X-ray is also known as a radiograph since it literally sends radiation through your body. Bones and teeth, those areas of your body with high levels of calcium, appear white on the X-ray image. Soft tissue, which allows the radiation to pass through, appears black or gray. 

X-rays are good for detecting fractures, dislocations, misalignments, and narrowed joint spaces. X-rays won’t reveal subtle bone injuries, soft tissue tears, or inflammations. X-rays are generally ordered as the first diagnostic tool to discover if there are any fractures before further tests may be necessary. 

What Is an MRI?

An MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, uses a powerful magnet to pass radio waves through the body. There is no radiation involved. Protons in the body, however, react to the radio waves’ energy and create highly-detailed pictures of the body’s structures, including soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. 

An MRI is not as quick as an X-ray and can take ten minutes or more to perform even on the most powerful MRI scanners, but the detail it reveals is way more complete than an X-ray. Among injuries and problems an MRI can detect are cartilage loss, joint inflammation, nerve compression, spinal injuries, and torn or detached ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage. 

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Depending on the accident that causes you injury, you may want to file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company, or you may want to proceed straight to civil litigation with a personal injury lawsuit.  

An insurance company claim must be filed quickly, but for a personal injury lawsuit, you face a three-year statute of limitations to file. The clock starts clicking from the date of the accident that caused your injury. 

Understand Your Rights and Options

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence – their actions or inactions – contact me immediately at the Law Office of James A. Maniatis. I will listen to your story and advise you of the best option to recover compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.

I will negotiate with the insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit to get you the just compensation you deserve. Reach out if you’re anywhere in or around Shrewsbury, Southborough, or Webster.