Magnetic Resonance Angiography FAQs

Magnetic resonance angiography, also known as MRA, uses a magnetic field, radio waves and contrast material to produce detailed images of blood vessels throughout the body. This procedure does not use ionizing radiation, and can effectively detect, diagnose and aid in the treatment of heart disorders, stroke and other blood vessel diseases.

What is the purpose of an MRA?

An MRA is used to examine blood vessels in various parts of the body including the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, neck, legs, and abdomen. It can be used to detect atherosclerosis, aneurysm, trauma and other blood vessel abnormalities. In addition to its diagnostic purposes, this procedure can also help prepare and plan for surgeries such as a coronary bypass, or guide doctors as they repair damaged and diseased blood vessels with stents and other treatment methods.

The MRA procedure should not be performed on women who are pregnant in order to protect the fetus from the strong magnetic field.

How should I prepare for the MRA procedure?

On the day of the MRA procedure, patients should wear loose clothing and remove all metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses and hair clips. Hearing aids, dentures and other removable objects should be taken out as well to avoid interfering with the exam.

The physician will give directions about any special steps to take before the procedure. If a contrast material is being used, the patient may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for several hours before the exam.

What happens during the MRA procedure?

During the MRA procedure the patient will lie on the exam table and moved into the magnetic field of the MRI unit, where a series of images will be taken. The patient may be moved through the machine several times. If a contrast material is being used, the doctor will inject a contrast material intravenously into a vein in the hand or arm before the procedure begins. The MRA procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform.

What are the benefits of the MRA procedure?

An MRA can effectively diagnose and detect images of the blood vessels more quickly and less invasively than a catheter angiogram. This procedure can often eliminate the need for surgery through early detection and identification of conditions.

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