Imaging Scans 101: What Is An MRA Scan?

Imaging scans are one of the most well-known medical procedures, possibly because they’re often used as a diagnostic tool when people enter the hospital or need outpatient testing. MRA scans aren’t as recognizable, however, as their more popular counterpart: the MRI scan. Fortunately, there’s not much of a difference between MRA and MRI scans. Let’s take a moment to learn more about what an MRA scan is, how it works, and what it means if your doctor requests it. Here’s everything you need to know about an MRA scan.

What Is An MRA?

An MRA, otherwise known as a Magnetic Resonance Angiography, is a type of MRI that specifically scans blood vessels. This kind of scan is often performed in cases of suspected narrowing or blockage of blood vessels in the body.

Some other issues that your physician may look for in an MRA include:

  • An aneurysm or a weakness in the wall of an artery

  • An aortic coarctation, which is a narrowing of the aorta

  • An aortic dissection, which is bleeding in or along the wall of the aorta

  • The cause of a stroke

  • Signs of heart disease

  • Narrowing or blockage of the vessels in the arms of legs

  • Renal artery stenosis, or a narrowing of the blood vessels in the kidneys that can lead to high blood pressure or renal failure

How Does An MRA Scan Work?

An MRA scan is performed in much the same way as a regular MRI. In fact, the scan is conducted with an MRI machine and, just as with an MRI scan, the patient will lay flat on their back inside a narrow tube. Oftentimes the patient is required to take a contrast agent, which is either swallowed or injected. This contrast spreads through the desired organ or blood vessels and helps your radiologist see them with clarity.

What To Expect During An MRA Scan

If you are being given a contrast agent then you may be connected to an IV, which may cause you some discomfort. Outside of that, though, and MRA is a completely painless procedure. Claustrophobic patients may feel nervous, anxious, or uncomfortable laying inside of the MRI machine while the test is being conducted. If you are experiencing severe anxiety, you may be administered a sedative. Aside from these possible discomforts, and the noisiness of the MRI, the scan is completely painless and non-invasive.

More Information

If you or someone you know is in need of an MRA scan, the radiologists at Rosetta Radiology can help you. We specialize in all radiology needs, from diagnostic imaging to women’s imaging and radiation oncology.

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