What is a MRI/MRA scan?

A MRI/MRA (Magnetic Resonance Imaging/Angiogram) is an imaging study using powerful magnets and radio transmitters and receivers to magnetize protons in the body’s water molecules. Unlike some of the other imaging studies, X-ray is not used in this study. Radio waves are “bounced” off of water molecules and a computer forms an image. These “water” images are highly sensitive and can show swelling and areas of blood from hemorrhage, occlusion of vessels, vasculatures, and tumors.

The test requires that you lie very still on a table which will move through a tunnel-like structure that contains the machine. The “tunnel” is somewhat narrow, which may make some people feel uncomfortable. Metal or ferrous objects such as earrings, cardiac pacing wires, hearing aids, or aneurysm clips can cause problems with the machine, so be sure to identify them to se if it is safe to proceed with the test. In order to enhance the quality and power of the scan to obtain very accurate images, you may receive a contrast agent called gadolinium. This is a water-soluble non-radioactive that is injected into a vein during the test.