Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) uses powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer produce the detailed images. MR angiography does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays). It may be performed with or without contrast material to produce pictures of major blood vessels throughout the body. If needed, the contrast material is usually injected using a vein in the arm.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

MR angiography is used to examine blood vessels in key areas of the body, including the:

  • brain
  • kidneys
  • pelvis
  • legs
    • lungs
    • heart
    • neck
    • abdomen

    Physicians use the procedure to:

    • identify disease and aneurysms in the aorta, both in the chest and abdomen, or in other major blood vessels
    • detect atherosclerosis disease in the carotid artery of the neck, which may limit blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke
    • identify a small aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation inside the brain
    • detect artherosclerotic disease that has narrowed the arteries to the legs and help prepare for endovascular intervention or surgery
    • guide surgeons making repairs to diseased blood vessels, such as implanting or evaluating a stent
    • detect injury to one of more arteries in the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis or extremities in trauma patients
    • evaluate the details of arteries feeding a tumor prior to surgery or other procedures such as chemoembolization or selective internal radiation therapy
    • identify dissection or splitting in the aorta in the chest or abdomen or its major branches
    • show the extent and severity of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries
    • plan for a surgical operation, such as coronary bypass
    • sample blood from specific veins in the body to detect any endocrine disease
    • examine pulmonary arteries in the lungs to detect pulmonary embolism (blood clots from leg veins)