MRA is a study of the blood vessels using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer, an MRA makes two-dimensional and three-dimensional pictures.
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This test is done in order to:
MRIs can be harmful if you have metal inside your body such as joint replacements or a pacemaker. Make sure your doctor knows of any internal metal before the test. Some people may also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. Talk to your doctor about any allergies you have. Also, let your doctor know if you have liver or kidney problems. These may make it difficult for your body to get rid of the contrast.
Before the test, your doctor may:
If your doctor prescribes a sedative:
At the MRI center, you will be asked if you have something in your body that would interfere with the MRA, such as:
You may be:
If contrast is used, a small IV needle will be inserted into your hand or arm before you are moved into the MRI machine. The contrast will be injected during one set of images. It helps to make some organs and vessels easier to see on the pictures. You might have an allergic reaction to the dye, but this is rare
You will lie on a special table. This table will be moved inside the opening of the MRI machine. Most MRIs consist of 2-6 sets of images. Each one will take between 2-15 minutes. You will need to lie still while the images are being taken. You may need to hold your breath briefly. Technicians will communicate with you through an intercom from another room.
The test is painless. If contrast is used, you may experience a stinging sensation when the IV is inserted.
Your doctor will discuss the findings with you and any treatment you may need.
American Heart Association
Radiological Society of North America
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
MR angiography (MRA). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiomr. Updated July 2, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2013.
What is cardiac MRI? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/mri. Updated February 2, 2012. Accessed May 20, 2013.
Yucel EK, Anderson CM, Edelman RR, et al. Magnetic resonance angiography: update on applications for extracranial arteries. Circulation. 1999;100:2284.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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