Magnetic Resonance Angiography

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a diagnostic test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of blood vessels and blood flow within the body. MRA can help doctors detect, diagnose and treat blood vessel disorders and diseases such as stroke, aneurysm, clots, obstructions, and vascular disease in the heart, head, major organs, and extremities.

Reasons for Magnetic Resonance Angiography

Physicians may use MRA as a diagnostic tool to assess the arteries or as a guide while performing surgery on the blood vessels. It is primarily used to study blood vessels in all major parts of the body. MRA may be used to detect:

  • Aneurysm
  • Plaque disease
  • A blood clot
  • Congenital abnormalities in blood vessels
  • A narrowing of blood vessels
  • Obstruction of an artery

The MRA procedure can be used with X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans to produce images of blood vessels.

The Magnetic Resonance Angiography Procedure

The MRA is usually performed on an outpatient basis. The patient may be injected with a contrast dye before the procedure to help the radiologist see certain areas more clearly. The patient may also be given a mild sedative for claustrophobia or anxiety. At the beginning of the test, the patient is positioned on the examination table. During the test, the table is moved into the magnet unit of the MRI machine. A series of images are taken of the specific area being examined. While it may be uncomfortable to lie still for a long duration of time, the test is painless. The MRA test usually takes about 30 to 90 minutes to complete.

Complications of Magnetic Resonance Angiography

The magnetic resonance angiography is considered a safe test. Side effects are minimal and may include:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Allergic reaction to contrast dye
  • Anxiety

After the MRA test, a radiologist reviews the images and share them with the patient's physician.

Additional Resources