MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiography) are advanced imaging studies that produce multi-planar cross-sectional and volumetric images without the use ionizing radiation.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a strong magnetic field and pulses of radiofrequencies to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. An MRI may be performed of the body (chest, abdomen and pelvis), neuro axis (brain, spine, and neck), musculoskeletal system (joints and extremities), and breast.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
Magnetic resonance angiography or angiogram (MRA) is a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan that generates pictures of blood vessels inside the body. In many cases, an MRA can provide detailed information that in the past was only obtained with invasive studies such as diagnostic angiograms. An MRA can find abnormalities of the blood vessels that may be causing reduced or absent blood flow throughout the body. This study is often used to look at the blood vessels that go to the brain, kidneys, and legs as well as the caliber and integrity of the largest artery in the body, the aorta.
During an MRI or MRA, the patient lies on a padded table and the area of the body being studied is placed inside the round opening of the MRI scanner. The exam is not painful but does generate loud knocking and banging sounds. Ear plugs will be provided to decrease the noise during the exam which can take up to 45 minutes. The technologist will closely monitor the patient during the entire exam and communicate with the patient via an intercom explaining each step of the study. Similar to a CT scan, contrast material, known as gadolinium, may be used during MRI scans to show the internal organs and vessels more clearly. In very rare occasions, some patients may have side effects or adverse reactions to the contrast. Additionally, some patients, like those with cochlear implants and pacemakers, may not undergo an MRI or MRA.
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