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Magnetic Resonance Angiogram

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a non-invasive medical test that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to take pictures of blood vessels throughout the body.

Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento provides exceptional cardiology diagnostics for our heart and vascular patients. Our physicians use the latest technology to ensure an accurate diagnosis so we can provide you with the best course of cardiac treatment available.

What Is Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)?

Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA) combines the use of strong magnets and radio waves to take a picture inside your body that can be viewed on a video screen. Doctors use MRA to look at your arteries and blood vessels.

MRA is used to:

  • Examine arteries in the neck, lungs, abdomen, pelvis, kidneys or brain
  • Look for an aneurysm (ballooning of the blood vessel wall) or dissection (tear in the vessel)
  • Detect damage to arteries due to injuries

What To Expect During A Magnetic Resonance Angiogram

During an MRA , you will lie down on a platform that slides into the MRI machine, which is a chamber shaped liked a long tube. The whole procedure may take 30 to 60 minutes. Here's what to expect:

  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • A nurse may set up an IV (intravenous line) in your arm
  • During the MRA, several studies may be done. Contrast medium (a liquid that improves the quality of the pictures) may be injected into a vein through your IV line for some studies.
  • At times, the magnet may be within a few inches of your face. It is normal for the MRI machine to make loud knocking noises during some parts of the exam.
  • If you were injected with contrast medium, you will be asked to drink plenty of fluids to help flush it from your system after the procedure is done.
  • Your heart doctor will discuss the results with you when they are ready.

Preparing For An MRA

The magnet used in MRA can cause metal objects in your body to move or heat up. Metal can also distort the image. Be sure to tell the radiologist or technologist if you:

  • Have a metal plate or pins, an artificial joint, staples or screws, or other metal implant
  • Have a bullet or other metal in your body
  • Work with metal
  • Have tattoos (some inks contain metal)
  • Have braces

When you go in for the cardiology procedure, you will be asked to remove hair clips, jewelry, dentures, and other metal items that could affect the image. You may also be asked to remove makeup, which can contain metal.

Also tell the technologist if:

  • You are, or think you may be, pregnant
  • You tend to be claustrophobic (you fear small, enclosed spaces)
  • You are allergic to contrast medium (X-ray dye) or any medications