If your doctor has ordered an MRA, you’re probably thinking, ‘What the heck is that?’. MRA, or magnetic resonance angiography, is a special scan that uses radio waves and a magnetic field to get a clear look at your blood vessels, veins, and arteries. It provides information that your doctor could never get with other tests. You’re probably concerned about the test and are wondering why you need one. Let’s walk through what an MRA scan is.
So it’s an MRA, not an MRI?
This test is used to see the condition of the veins that lead to the heart, neck, abdomen, pelvis, kidneys, brain, legs and arms. The test scans for damage to the veins, blockages, clots, plaque, tears, and congenital abnormalities to the blood vessels, veins, and arteries. Don’t worry it is a painless test, but you might feel some discomfort from lying in one position for a long time, or from the contrast injection.
How to Prepare for the Test
Before the test you will be asked not to eat or drink for four to six hours before the test. They will take a medical history to make sure you are able to have an MRA. Before the exam you will be given a hospital gown and asked to remove metals or other objects that interfere with the test.
What Happens During the MRA?
This procedure is an outpatient procedure, which means you will come to a outpatient facility, like Advanced Imaging Centers, to get the procedure done. The doctor will insert an IV into your arm and give it to you by injection, and it takes one to two minutes for the dye to work. You will lie flat on a table and be slide into position into the MRA machine. When they take the scans it is important to hold very still, you may even have to hold your breath for a few seconds.
Then, the doctor goes into the next rooms to take the photos. The test will take 30 to 90 minutes depending on your case. The contrast material often produces a tingling or warm feeling in patients for just a few minutes after it is injected. Sometimes the doctor provides you with ear plugs or headphones during this test, because of the sound of the machine. Also, fear not, this test does not use any radiation.
After the MRA
After the MRA the doctor will remove the IV line if you have any contrast material injected. You will be asked to wait so they can check the scans. A radiologist will study the scan and send a signed report to your primary care doctor, this often takes a few days. Your doctor will call you to make an appointment to discuss the results, and they may refer you to a doctor or surgeon for treatment of the condition.