Medical Evidence: X-ray vs MRI

Administrative Law Judges in the Social Security Administration determine disability largely based on medical records as evidence. Objective medical evidence is the most preferred type of evidence (as opposed to subjective complaints) because it cannot be disputed. For instance, an x-ray of a broken leg is always more convincing than a claimant telling their doctor they have broken their leg.

X-rays and MRIs are a very common form of objective evidence used in social security disability determinations. They can be used to establish musculoskeletal, neurological, gastrointestinal, and other medical impairments. So what is better evidence, x-rays or MRIs?

X-rays are a common imaging test that have been used for decades to help doctors view inside the body without making incisions. They are a relatively cheap and inexpensive way for doctors to view and diagnose medical impairments. In some cases, x-rays are all that are necessary to establish a medical impairment. However, in other cases, MRIs prove much more effective not only diagnosing medical problems but also measuring the severity of the problems. An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, in effect takes a 3D picture of the subject matter. In contrast, an x-ray is a 2D image. For this reason an MRI often shows more than an x-ray can show. For instance, an x-ray of the lumbar spine might show mild degenerative changes, whereas an MRI of the same lumbar spine might show moderate to severe degenerative changes.

In conclusion, an MRI will oftentimes show more detail than an x-ray. The downside to an MRI is that is significantly more expensive than an x-ray. Sometimes an x-ray is all that is necessary. Always consult your doctor as to what avenue to pursue.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

View all author posts →

Additional Related Articles

Legal Blog Expert