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The Knowledge Zone

What's an MRA?

Angiography is a medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical abnormalities and diseases of the blood vessels. Angiography examinations conducted by Trained MRI Technologists produce images of major blood vessels throughout the body and can be performed with various imaging technologies and in some cases require a contrast material to be administered.


Angiography is performed using:

  • fluoroscopy (x-rays) utilizing catheters to directly inject an x-ray contrast agent into the blood vessel being examined

  • Computed tomography (CT) with an x-ray contrast agent being injected intravenously.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with or without with an MRI contrast agent being injected intravenously.

  • Ultrasound can also evaluate superficial blood vessels via a technique called Doppler imaging.


In magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency waves and computers produce detailed images of the major arteries within the body. MR angiography does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).

MRA may be performed with or without contrast material depending on the MRI technique used. If needed, the contrast material is usually administered through a small intravenous (IV) catheter placed in a vein in your arm.

Common uses of MRAs?

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

  • Blood  vessels in the neck and  brain 

  • Great blood vessels in the chest – aorta and vena cava

  • Blood vessels in the abdomen (eg. blood supply to the kidney and liver)

  • Complete blood supply from the iliac to the legs and feet.

  • Blood vessels in the arms and hands


Physicians use the procedure to:

  • Identify abnormalities, such as aneurysms, dissections and congenital abnormalities, in the aorta, both in the chest and abdomen, or in other arteries.

  • Detect atherosclerotic (plaque) 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 (abnormal communications between blood vessels) inside the brain or other parts of the body.

  • Detect atherosclerotic disease that has narrowed the arteries to the legs and help prepare for endovascular intervention or surgery.

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