Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) Tests
Magnetic resonance angiography creates clear, highly detailed images of blood vessels. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a non-invasive diagnostic test that utilizes a magnetic field, pulses of radio wave energy and a computer to create detailed pictures of arteries, veins and heart chambers. The resulting images can help a physician evaluate blood flow as well as the condition of blood vessel walls.
A physician may suggest magnetic resonance angiography to investigate a suspected narrowing or blockage in a blood vessel. An MRA test can also be used to diagnose:
- An aneurysm
- Aortic coarctation
- Aortic dissection
- Renal artery stenosis
- Heart disease
- The cause of a stroke
During magnetic resonance angiography, the patient lies comfortably on an examination table that moves in and out of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, which is a large, tunnel-like tube. A contrast dye may be delivered to the patient’s bloodstream via an intravenous (IV) line to help the blood vessels show up better in the resulting images. The patient will be asked to remain as still as possible throughout the scanning process, which can take up to an hour or longer.
What to Expect
Because magnetic resonance angiography utilizes a powerful magnetic field, it is important for the patient to remove all jewelry and other metal objects from his or her body and to discuss any metal implants, such as a pacemaker, with the physician beforehand.
Some patients experience anxiety while inside the narrow space of the MRI scanner. To improve comfort, a mild sedative may be given before an MRA test. Typically, magnetic resonance angiography does not cause side effects or complications, and the patient can go home immediately afterward.
As compared to computed tomography angiography (CTA), magnetic resonance angiography is equally effective at detecting coronary artery disease, but an MRA test involves lower risk because it does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation.
Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute offers the latest imaging options, including magnetic resonance angiography, for diagnosing heart and vascular conditions.