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Patient Instructions

  • Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)

Patient Instructions - Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)

A MRA is a diagnostic exam in which a strong magnet, radiowaves and a computer are used to make images or pictures of the blood vessels in your body. The images are not produced by X-rays, but are obtained and recorded by a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner. The blood vessels in your head (cerebral arteries), neck (carotid arteries), abdomen (renal arteries) or pelvis and legs (iliac and femoral arteries), are the most common to obtain images of the blood vessels. Most commonly scanned areas are the head, neck, abdomen, pelvis and legs.

A MRA is used to detect abnormalities within the blood vessels such as narrowings. The exam will also detect congenital malformations within the vessel. The magnetic fields used in MRA are not known to be harmful, and MRA is painless. However, because of the way MRA works, metal in or on your body can affect the pictures. It is very important to tell your doctor and MRI technologist if you have a cardiac pacemaker or artificial heart valve, metal plate, pin or other metal implant, insulin pump or other infusion pump, aneurysm clips, stents, IUD or inner ear implant.

Before your Procedure

  • The MRI staff will interview you briefly before the scan about other implanted metal or electronic devices. They will be able to determine if you can have a MRA scan.

  • You should also let your doctor or MRI staff know if you are pregnant or nursing. MRA studies with contrast are not usually advised for pregnant women.

  • You may eat normally unless you have been instructed differently by your doctor.

  • Take any medications as usual.

  • If you use medicated patches (Duragesic, Nitroglycerin, birth control), bring a replacement patch the day of the MRI.

  • If you are taking pain medication, it may be helpful to take this also before the exam, as you will be asked to lie still for a period of time.

  • It is very important that you are able to lie still during the scan. Movement will blur the pictures, producing a poor exam.

  • Dress in comfortable clothing without metal items, such as hooks and zippers. A hospital gown will be available to change into if needed.

  • If you are diabetic and take insulin, please remind your physician. Depending on the time you are scheduled to have your study, he or she may want to adjust the dose of insulin you take the morning of the exam.

During your Procedure

  • You will be asked briefly about your health history.

  • You will be asked to leave all metallic objects (jewelry, keys, credit cards, watches, hairpins, hearing aides, coins, etc.) in a secure place outside the scanning room.

  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown.

  • You will be positioned on the exam table, lying on your back.

  • The table will slide into the large, tube-shaped magnet (the scanner). The area to be studied is in the center of the scanner. The two ends of the scanner are always open.

  • During the exam, the MRI scanner makes a loud knocking or thumping sound that changes in frequency or pattern. Earplugs or headphones with your choice of music are available for your comfort.

  • It is very important that you lie still and follow the instructions of the technologist.

  • For most MRAs, a contrast agent is used to make the blood vessels in your body appear bright on the pictures. If this is needed for your exam, the contrast will be injected into a vein in your arm or hand.

  • Length of your exam will depend on your medical condition and what blood vessels are being scanned. Typically, 15-45 minutes is sufficient, but allow 1-2 hours for the total process.

After your Procedure

  • Your doctor will be contacted with the results of your test and will discuss the results with you.

Providing safe, quality patient care is our highest priority. To help ensure quality and safety, we ask that you do not bring young children with you to your appointments, as children are not allowed to accompany you during Imaging procedures. Staff is unable to care for your child in your absence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider. 

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