A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) is a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to provide pictures of blood vessels inside the body. MRA can find problems with the blood vessels that may be causing reduced blood flow. With MRA, both the blood flow and the condition of the blood vessel walls can be seen.

MRA may be performed with or without contrast material. If needed, the contrast material called gadolinium is usually injected using a vein in the arm.

MRA is used to examine blood vessels in key areas of the body, including the:

  • Brain
  • Kidneys
  • Pelvis
  • Legs
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Neck
  • Abdomen

Watch a video of an MR angiogram of the renal (kidney) arteries.

Physicians utilize MRA to:

  • Detect atherosclerosis disease in the carotid artery of the neck, which may limit blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke
  • Identify a small aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation inside the brain
  • Detect atherosclerotic disease that has narrowed the arteries to the legs and help prepare for endovascular intervention or surgery
  • Renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the blood vessels in the kidneys)
  • Detect disease in the arteries to the kidneys or visualize blood flow to help prepare for a kidney transplant
  • Detect an aneursym in one or more arteries in the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis or extremities

Your physician will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your MRA. Please inform your physician of any medications you are taking as well as any allergies you may have.  Also inform your physician regarding a recent illness or other medical conditions.

Women should inform their physician if they are pregnant, or if there is any possibility they may be pregnant.