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:
- Identify diseased, narrowed, enlarged, and blocked blood vessels
- Locate internal bleeding
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.
If your doctor prescribes a sedative:
- Arrange for a ride home.
- Do not eat or drink for at least four hours before the exam.
- Take the sedative 1-2 hours before the exam, or as directed.
At the MRI center:
You will be asked about the following:
- Medical and surgical history
- Whether you have any metal objects in your body
You will be asked if you have something in your body that would interfere with the MRA, such as:
or implantable defibrillator
- Ear implant
- Metal fragments in your eyes or in any other part of your body—Tell your doctor if your work involves metal filings or particles.
- Implanted port device, such as an insulin pump
- Metal plate, pins, screws, or surgical staples
- Metal clips from aneurysm repair
- Retained bullets
- Any other large metal objects in your body (Tooth fillings and braces are usually fine.)
- You will remove any metal objects (such as jewelry, hearing aids, glasses) and change into a gown.
may be taken to check for any metal objects in your body.
You may be:
- Given earplugs or headphones to wear (The MRI machine makes a loud banging noise.)
- Given an injection of a contrast dye into your vein
- Allowed to have a family member or friend with you during the test
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. The technician will be in another room. You will be able to talk to her through an intercom.
- You will be asked to wait at the facility while the images are examined. The technician may need more images.
- If you took a sedative, do not drive or operate machinery until it wears off.
If you are
and receive contrast dye, you and your doctor should discuss when you should restart breastfeeding. Information available has not found any ill effects to the baby if a breastfeeding mother has had contrast dye.
Be sure to follow your doctor's
The test is painless. However, you may notice the following:
- Loud knocking or tapping noises from the machine
- Brief stinging when the IV needle is inserted (if contrast is used)
Your doctor will discuss the findings with you and any treatment you may need.
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occur:
- Worsening of symptoms
- Allergic or abnormal symptoms (if contrast material was used)
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
University of Iowa Department of Radiology website. Available at:
. Accessed July 27, 2009.
MRI. HeartCenterOnline website. Available at:
. Updated October 2008. Accessed July 27, 2009.
MR angiography (MRA). RadiologyInfo website. Available at:
. Updated June 3009. Accessed July 27, 2009.
Yucel EK, Anderson CM, Edelman RR, et al. Magnetic resonance angiography:
update on applications for extracranial arteries.
Last reviewed September 2012 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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