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Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)

Woman lying on back on scanner table. Healthcare provider is standing next to woman preparing to slide table into ring-shaped scanner.

Magnetic resonance angiography uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to create images of blood vessels throughout the body. It combines the use of strong magnets and radio waves to form an image that can be viewed on a video screen.

Why MRA Is Done

MRA may be used to:

  • Examine arteries in the neck, lungs, abdomen, pelvis, kidneys, or brain.

  • Look for an aneurysm (ballooning of the blood vessel wall) or dissection (tear in the vessel).

  • Detect damage to arteries due to injuries.

Note:

This procedure is dangerous for people with pacemakers. Be sure your radiologist or technologist knows if you have a pacemaker.

Before You Have MRA

The magnet used in MRA can cause metal objects in your body to move or heat up. Metal can also distort the image. Be sure to tell the radiologist or technologist if you:

  • Have a metal plate or pins, an artificial joint, staples or screws, or other metal implant.

  • Have a bullet or other metal in your body.

  • Work with metal.

  • Have tattoos (some inks contain metal).

  • Have braces.

Also tell the technologist if:

  • You are, or think you may be, pregnant.

  • You tend to be claustrophobic (you fear small, enclosed spaces).

  • You are allergic to contrast medium (X-ray dye) or any medications.

  • You wear a medicated adhesive patch.

During the Procedure

  • Remove hair clips, jewelry, dentures, and other metal items that could affect the image. You may also be asked to remove makeup, which can contain metal.

  • You may change into a hospital gown. An IV (intravenous) line may be set up.

  • You will lie down on a platform that slides into the MRI machine.

  • At times, the magnet may be within a few inches of your face. It is normal for the MRI machine to make loud knocking noises during some parts of the exam.

  • Several studies may be done. Contrast medium may be injected into a vein through an IV line for some of the studies.

  • The whole procedure may take 30 to 90 minutes.

After the Procedure

  • If you were injected with contrast medium, drink plenty of fluids to help flush it from your system.

  • Your doctor will discuss the results with you when they are ready.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 12/16/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.