Do you need an MRA scan? Here’s what you should know about the procedure.


What Is an MRA (MR Angiography) Scan?

Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) scans provide incredibly detailed images of the body’s blood vessels — MRAs are a form of MRIs.

Using magnetic field and radio wave energy pulses, the MRA provides information that X-rays, CT scans or ultrasounds can’t always obtain. MRA exams are most often used on your neck, legs, kidneys and brain to gather information about the condition of the blood vessel walls and blood flow. They also can be used to search for aneurysms, calcium deposits and clots within the blood vessels. Sometimes, a contrast dye is used to provide better definition of the blood vessels in the scan’s images.

What to Expect During an MRA Scan

When you get an MRA scan, you’ll place only the area of the body being studied inside the MRI machine. You will be asked to lie on the bed, which slides into the large cylindrical opening of the machine. It’s important to remain as still as possible throughout the procedure, so you don’t distort the scan’s images. A microphone in the machine allows you to speak with the technician whenever you need to.

Once the scan begins, you will hear loud banging noises as well as the hum of the MRI machine. This is completely normal. We will provide you with earplugs and/or headphones to block out the noise and allow you to listen to music during the scanning process. You can expect the entire procedure to last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, and potentially longer if contrast material is used.

Benefits of MRA Scans

MRA scans provide many distinct benefits both to patients and the physicians who use the images to diagnose health concerns:

  • Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRA and MRI scans don’t utilize radiation
  • In many instances, MRA scans detect information that ultrasounds, X-rays and CT scans miss
  • An MRA examination is noninvasive
  • MRA scans can detect problems with blood vessels that cause reduced blood flow

Uses of MRA Scans

An MRA scan is an extremely useful diagnostic tool that’s primary purpose is to find any problems that may exist with your blood vessels. Some of the most common uses for an MRA include:

  • Detection of aneurysms, calcium deposits or clots within blood vessels
  • Discovering blood vessel abnormalities within the brain, such as inflammation or congenital disabilities
  • Finding any existing narrowing within the blood vessels
  • Diagnosis of lesions in arteries that could disrupt blood flow to the brain
  • Evaluation of stroke patients
  • Defining blood supply to vascular tumors in the brain
  • And much more