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MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) 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. A standard MRI cannot provide a good picture of the blood vessels and blood flow.
People who have an MRA also may have an MRI.
When you have an MRA, you lie on a table and the table moves into the MRI machine. An MRA is done with the same machine as an MRI.
An MRA of the head is done to look at the blood vessels leading to the brain to check for a bulge (aneurysm), a clot, or a narrowing (stenosis) because of plaque.
You won't have pain from the magnetic field or radio waves used for the MRI test. But you may be tired or sore from lying in one position for a long time.
If a contrast material is used, you may feel some coolness when it is put into your IV.
In rare cases, you may feel:
There are no known harmful effects from the strong magnetic field used for an MRI. But the magnet is very powerful. It may affect any metal implants or other medical devices you have.
Contrast material that contains gadolinium may be used in this test. But for most people, the benefit of its use in this test outweighs the risk. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have kidney problems or are pregnant.
There is a slight chance of an allergic reaction if contrast material is used during the test. But most reactions are mild and can be treated using medicine.
If you breastfeed and are concerned about whether the contrast material used in this test is safe, talk to your doctor. Most experts believe that very little dye passes into breast milk and even less is passed on to the baby. But if you are concerned, you can stop breastfeeding for up to 24 hours after the test. During this time, you can give your baby breast milk that you stored before the test. Don't use the breast milk you pump in the 24 hours after the test. Throw it out.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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