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How is a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) performed?

When magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to diagnose problems in the blood vessels, the test is often called a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA). MRA is a type of imaging; that is, it creates images of the blood vessels so a physician can identify problems.

An MRA uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce two- or three-dimensional images of blood vessels. These images provide doctors a more precise assessment of the severity and location of any blockages in the arteries.

For a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), you will go to a special laboratory, change into a gown and remove all jewelry and other metal objects. You may be given medications to help you lie still during the MRA, which typically takes 30 to 90 minutes.

To prepare for the MRA, you will be asked to lie on a table. A technician will then slide the table into a hollow, donut-shaped chamber. There you will be exposed to magnetic fields and radio waves -- both harmless and painless. If requested by your doctor, a small amount of "dye" will be injected through an IV in your vein. This contrast dye is used to visualize the blood in the vessels as well as the heart tissue itself. Lying still on the table in an enclosed area may be the most uncomfortable aspect of the MRA. If you feel uncomfortable in closed spaces, your doctor can administer anxiety-reducing medication at your request. Some hospitals use an “open MRI” instead of a “closed” one. You will also find that the scanner makes many loud "clanking" noises during the test.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.