What's the difference between an MRI scan and an MRA scan?


Quick Answer

MRA and MRI are essentially the same exam except that an MRA is used to examine only the blood vessels. An MRI, however, is used to check other parts of the body such as the internal organs, the chest, pelvis and abdomen, explains Healthline.

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Full Answer

MRA stands for magnetic resonance angiography. It is a procedure often performed on people with a history of stroke, heart disease, vasculitis, swelling or narrowing of the aorta, atherosclerosis, renal artery

stenosis, carotid artery disease, and mesenteric artery ischemia. The scan is also frequently used during arterial disease screenings and surgeries, according to Healthline.

An MRA scan often involves the injection of contrast material into the patient’s vein to help visualize the blood vessels. Some ingredients of the contrast may cause an allergic reaction, which is why it is important to discuss existing allergies with a doctor, advises WebMD.

The MRA uses powerful magnets to produce magnetic waves, which is why patients must remove all metal objects from the body before the procedure. It is also important to talk to the physician about the presence of any metal objects inside of the body, including a stent, pacemaker, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, and a metal heart valve, explains WebMD.

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