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Sports Medicine

MRI vs X-rays



Can you tell me what structures of the knee would show up on an MRI and what ones will show up on an X-Ray?


A simplified answer is that "X-rays reveal bone", whereas MRI scans also depict bone (some features of which are actually better seen with X-rays), but are particularly useful to visualize such "soft tissues" as:

·         muscles
·         tendons
·         ligaments
·         cartilage (e.g., articular, meniscal, labral, disc)
·         blood vessels
·         nerve (e.g., peripheral nerves, brain, spinal cord)
·         fluid/edema
·         fat
·         organs (e.g., liver, heart, etc.)
·         lymph nodes
·         scar tissue (may require contrast), and
·         soft tissue tumors.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University