Magnetic Resonance Angiography
by Laurie Rosenblum, MPH
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 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional pictures.
Reasons for Test TOP
This test is done in order to:
Possible Complications TOP
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.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Test
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:
Description of 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. Technicians will communicate with you through an intercom from another room.
After Test TOP
How Long Will It Take? TOP
Will It Hurt? TOP
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.
Call Your Doctor TOP
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
MR angiography (MRA). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 25, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2016.
Explore cardiac MRI. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 2, 2012. Accessed March 2, 2016.
Yucel EK, Anderson CM, et al. Magnetic resonance angiography: update on applications for extracranial arteries. Circulation. 1999;100(22):2284-2301.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 5/2/2014
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