A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body. In many cases MRA can provide information that can't be obtained from an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan.
MRA can find problems with the blood vessels that may be causing reduced blood flow. With MRA, both the blood flow and the condition of the blood vessel walls can be seen. The test is often used to look at the blood vessels that go to the brain, kidneys, and legs. Information from an MRA can be saved and stored on a computer for further study. Photographs of selected views can also be made.
During MRA, the area of the body being studied is placed inside an MRI machine. Contrast material is often used during MRA to make blood vessels show up more clearly.
A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is done to look for:
Before a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), tell your doctor and the MRI technologist if you:
For some abdominal MRI tests, you may be asked to not eat or drink before the test.
You may need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the test, if you are given a medicine (sedative) to help you relax.
If you are having blood flow studies, do not use tobacco products and do not eat or drink (including alcohol or caffeinated beverages) for 2 hours before the test. Do not take iron supplements on the day of the test.
You may need to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of an abdominal MRI and agree to have the test done. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) test is usually done by a magnetic resonance image (MRI) technologist. The test is done in an MRI machine. The resulting pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist. But some other types of doctors can also interpret an MRA scan.
Before the test
During the test
If contrast material is needed, the technologist will put it in an IV in your arm. The material may be given over 1 to 2 minutes. Then more MRI scans are done.
An MRA test usually takes 30 to 90 minutes but can take as long as 2 hours.
You won't have pain from the magnetic field or radio waves used for the MRI test. The table you lie on may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may be tired or sore from lying in one position for a long time.
Some people feel discomfort or anxiety (claustrophobia) inside the MRI magnet. If this keeps you from lying still, you can be given a sedative to help you relax. Open MRI machines are less confining than standard MRI and may be helpful if you are claustrophobic.
If a contrast material is used, you may feel some coolness and flushing as it is put into your IV. In rare cases, you may feel:
There is a slight risk of having an allergic reaction if contrast material is used during the MRA scan. Most reactions can be controlled using medicine.
An MRI can cause a burn with some medicine patches. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are wearing a patch.
If you have kidney disease, such as kidney failure, talk to your doctor before having an MRA scan with contrast material. The contrast material used for an MRA contains a chemical called gadolinium. If you have kidney disease, this chemical may cause a serious problem, called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.
A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body. The radiologist may talk to you about the results of your MRA right after the test. Complete results are usually available for your doctor in 1 to 2 days.
The blood vessels look normal and the blood flow through them is not reduced or stopped. No blood clots or large plaque buildup is seen.
Blood vessel walls are normal. No bleeding, abnormal collections of fluid, blockage in the flow of blood, or bulges in the blood vessels (aneurysms) are present.
Partial or complete blockage of a blood vessel may be seen. Blockage may be caused by a blood clot, the buildup of fat and calcium deposits (plaque), or narrowing (stenosis) of the blood vessel.
A bulge (aneurysm) in the blood vessel wall may be seen. Damage to the wall of a blood vessel may be seen.
Conventional angiogram or a CT angiogram (computed tomography angiogram) may be needed after MRA if a problem, such as an aneurysm, is found or if surgery may be needed.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
|American Heart Association (AHA)|
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Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and provide information and support.
|National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)|
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The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing and treating:
|Society for Vascular Surgery|
|633 North Saint Clair Street, 24th Floor|
|Chicago, IL 60611|
VascularWeb is a Web site provided by the Society for Vascular Surgery. This Web site provides information about vascular conditions for patients and families. VascularWeb can help you learn about how to prevent and treat vascular diseases, learn about vascular screening, and find a vascular surgeon.
Other Works Consulted
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- Bluemke, D, et al. (2008). Noninvasive coronary artery imaging: Magnetic resonance angiography and multidetector computed tomography angiography. A scientific statement From the American Heart Association Committee on Cardiovascular Imaging and Intervention of the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention, and the Councils on Clinical Cardiology and Cardiovascular Disease in t
- Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
- Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Hundley WG, et al. (2010). ACCF/ACR/AHA/NASCI/SCMR 2010 expert consensus document on cardiovascular magnetic resonance. Circulation, 121(22): 2462–2508.
- Levine GN, et al. (2007). Safety of magnetic resonance imaging in patients with cardiovascular devices: An American Heart Association scientific statement from the Committee on Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiac Catheterization...
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||George Philippides, MD - Cardiology|
|Last Revised||June 13, 2012|
Last Revised: June 13, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
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