A magnetic resonance angiogram, or MRA, scan detects problems with blood vessels and blood flow, according to WebMD. The scan is used to evaluate blood vessels and help identify abnormalities or diagnose atherosclerotic disease, states the Radiological Society of North America.
An MRA is used specifically to look at blood vessels in all parts of the body, including the head, abdomen, heart, legs, lungs and kidneys, explains MedlinePlus. The results of the scan's powerful magnets and radio waves are used by doctors to detect or diagnose certain conditions including arterial aneurysm, aortic coarctation, aortic dissection, stroke and carotid artery diseases. Doctors also use the scan to evaluate heart disease, atherosclerosis, mesenteric artery ischemia and renal artery stenosis.
With an MRA, a doctor determines which blood vessels are inflamed, blocked, narrowed, damaged or injured, and the extent of the injury, notes Healthline. MRA scans are also used to detect blood clots, fat buildup and calcium deposits in blood vessels, according to WebMD. Surgeons may use an MRA scan to evaluate the arteries feeding a tumor before radiation or surgery. They may also use an MRA as a guide when repairing diseased blood vessels. Some tests may require a contrast dye to improve the quality of the images, states Healthline. The dye is injected into the patient's hand or forearm before the scan, says MedlinePlus.