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Neurosciences and Behavioral Health Center

Magnetic Resonance Angiography

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) makes 2D and 3D pictures of blood vessels using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The test uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer.

This test is done in order to:

  • Identify diseased, narrowed, enlarged and blocked blood vessels
  • Locate internal bleeding

Is an MRA Dangerous?

MRIs can be harmful if:

  • You have metal inside your body such as joint replacements or a pacemaker
  • You're allergic to the contrast dye
  • You have liver or kidney problems, which could make it difficult for your body to get rid of the contrast

Tell your neuroradiologist if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemaker or implantable defibrillator
  • Neurostimulator
  • Ear implant
  • Metal fragments in your eyes or in any other part of your body
  • Implanted port device, such as an insulin pump
  • Metal plate, pins, screws, or surgical staples
  • Metal clips from aneurysm repair
  • Retained bullets
  • Any other large metal objects in your body

Description of an MRA

You may need contrast dye in order for your doctor to see some organs and vessels easier. Your doctor will insert a small IV needle into your hand or arm before you move into the MRI machine. 

You’ll lie on a table inside the opening of the MRI machine. Most MRIs consist of 2-6 sets of images. Each one will take between 2-15 minutes. You’ll need to lie still while the images are being taken. You may need to hold your breath briefly.

The test will take about 40-90 minutes. It’s painless, but you may experience a stinging sensation if/when your doctor inserts the contrast dye. Your doctor will discuss the findings with you and any treatment you may need.

After Your MRA

Your doctor will ask you to wait while he or she examines the images. If you took a sedative, do not drive or operate machinery until it wears off. If you’re breastfeeding and receive contrast dye, you and your doctor should discuss when you should restart breastfeeding.

Call your doctor if any of the following occur:

  • New or worsening symptoms
  • Allergic or abnormal symptoms if contrast material was used

Have you had a brain scan at UVA?

See your imaging scans online using MyVue.

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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