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MR Angiography

MR Angiography

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a technology that allows radiologists to make images of the inside of the body using the body’s own magnetic properties. MR angiography (MRA) is an MRI study of selected blood vessels within the body. It utilizes MR technology to detect, diagnose, and aid the treatment of heart disorders, stroke, and other blood vessel diseases. The procedure is painless, and does not require the use of ionizing radiation for image acquisition.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

  • Many patients now have arterial disease treated in the radiology department rather than undergoing surgery in an operating room. MRA is useful in detecting problems with blood vessels and determining how to best treat those problems.
  • MRA is an especially safe and sensitive tool for evaluating abnormalities of the blood vessels which supply the brain, both the extracranial carotid arteries and the intracranial branch vessels of the carotid arteries.
  • MRA also is used to detect disease in the aorta, numerous visceral arteries which supply blood to the main internal organs, and the upper and lower extremity arteries which supply blood to the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
  • Patients with a family history of arterial aneurysm can be screened by MRA. If an aneurysm is detected by an MRA, surgery can eliminate the aneurysm, possibly avoiding serious or even fatal future bleeding should the aneurysm rupture.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

If you have metal containing objects in your body, such as a heart pacemaker-defibrillator, aneurysm surgical clip, intrauterine device, vascular access port, metal plate, or pins, screws, or staples, you may not be a candidate for MRI. You will be given a questionnaire to complete immediately prior to your MRA examination regarding these issues. The radiologist or technologist should know about any such item and also whether you have ever had a bullet in your body, whether you ever worked with metals occupationally, or if you have had a joint replacement. If there is any question, a simple x-ray can be taken to detect the presence of metal objects. The radiologist also should know if you have fillings in your teeth, which could distort images of the facial region or brain. Braces make it harder to properly adjust the MRI unit. You will be asked to remove hairpins, jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and any dental work that can be taken out. Some wigs contain metal and must be removed. Red dyes used in tattoos and permanent eyeliner may contain metallic iron, but this is rarely a problem. You should report any drug allergies to the radiologist or technologist, and should mention if there's any possibility that you might be pregnant. Medications may be taken as usual.

How long is the MRI exam?

Most studies take 20-45 minutes. Depending on what part of the body is studied, it may take as long as two hours. When you schedule your appointment, the schedulers and technologists are happy to explain your procedure to you.

 

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