What is an MRA?
MRA or Magnetic Resonance Angiogram is a scanning procedure designed to target blood vessels of the human organism specifically. While both MRI and MRA use similar magnetic fields-related technology, there are some differences between the two types of scanning.
MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is an advanced method of scanning the soft tissues of the human organism. The resulting scans allow investigation of the pathological tissues in great detail due to the fine quality of the image.
Why Use an MRA?
A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is done to look for:
- A bulge (aneurysm), clot, or the buildup of fat and calcium deposits (stenosis caused by plaque) in the blood vessels leading to the brain.
- An aneurysm or tear (dissection) in the aorta, which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- Narrowing (stenosis) of the blood vessels leading to the lungs, kidneys, or legs.
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How is MRA Performed?
Before an MRA scan, you’ll be asked if you have any issues that would interfere with the MRA machine or your safety.
These can include:
- medical devices
- joint replacements
- metal of any kind
In case you’re getting an MRA to examine, you may require a differentiation operator. This will be injected into your veins. It will be utilized to give the images more contrast so that your veins or supply routes will be simpler to see.
You may be given earplugs or ear protection of some sort. The machine is loud and has the potential to harm your hearing.
You should lay on a table. The table will slide into the MRA machine.
It may feel tight inside the machine. If you’ve experienced claustrophobia in the past, you should let your doctor know before the procedure.
Preparation for Procedure
EAT/DRINK: You may eat, drink and take medications as usual.
CLOTHING: You must completely change into a patient gown and lock up all personal belongings. A gown and locker will be provided for you. Please remove all piercings and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Imaging takes place inside of a large tube-like structure, open on both ends. You must lie perfectly still for quality images. The machine is very loud, so earplugs are required and will be provided to you.
CONTRAST: Your MRA scan may include an injection of a contrast agent. A contrast agent is a special liquid that is injected through an intravenous (IV) line, a small tube placed in a vein. Some people may notice discomfort, tingling or warmth in the lips, metallic taste in the mouth, tingling in the arm, nausea or headache. These symptoms go away quickly.
ALLERGY: If you’ve had a hypersensitive response to differentiate that necessary medicinal treatment, contact your requesting doctor to get the prescribed medicine to take by mouth 24, 12 and two hours before the MRA scan.
ANXIETY: If you require anti-anxiety medication due to claustrophobia, contact your ordering physician for a prescription. Please note, you will need someone to drive you home.
STRONG MAGNETIC ENVIRONMENT: If you have metal within your body that was not disclosed prior to your appointment, your MRA scan may be delayed, rescheduled or canceled upon your arrival until further information can be obtained.
Your doctor may suggest additional preparation depending on your particular situation.
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What About the Results of the MRA Scan?
The Radiologist may talk to you about the results of your MRA right after the test. Complete results are usually available for your doctor within 24 hours.
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