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
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.
What to Expect
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.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
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
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Cardiac MRI. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/cardiac-mri. Accessed March 2, 2018.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 19, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2018.
MR angiography (MRA). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angiomr. Updated April 1, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 5/2/2014
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