The Difference between MRI and MRA

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The Difference between MRI and MRA

What is MRI?


You might have heard people discuss about MRI scans in the past. You will note that most of them usually go for this scan due to various health issues. MRI refers to Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is a test that generally uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer in order to make detailed pictures of various body parts. This could be your brain, stomach, lungs and so on. The doctor or radiologist usually use this test in order to diagnose various health issues. You will note that your doctor might refer you to go for this scanning so that he can get a detailed report of the affected body parts. This can help him treat your disease more effectively. Unlike other scans, an MRI does not use radiation. A doctor might recommend that you undergo this scanning if you have blood vessel damage in your brain, cancer, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, heart diseases, and so on. The good news is that these parts will be assessed after the scan is over and thereby treat various ailments. It can also help to prevent future health issues that can lead to death.

What is MRA?


MRA refers to Magnetic Resonance angiography. This scan usually uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to evaluate blood vessels. It also plays a significant role in identifying abnormalities. This test does not involve radiation and can require you to get injected with a contrast agent. In this case, gadolinium might be used as a contrast. This is because this contrast is less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to iodinated contrast material used in CT angiography. Here, the doctor will administer this contrast by placing a small intravenous (IV) catheter in one of the veins in your hand. This scan is ideal when doctors want to examine blood vessels in critical areas such as the neck, brain, chest, pelvis, and the abdomen.

Preparation Difference.


If you are going for either an MRI or MRA scan, you have to be adequately prepared. First and foremost, we shall look at what you should consider before going for an MRI scan. The following are ideas on how you should prepare for an MRI scan:

  • You should ensure that you do not carry your jewelry when going for this scan. This is because metallic objects might interfere with the process when you are undergoing an MRI scan. Remember that you will be in an area that has a high magnetic field. In this case, metallic objects should be left at home. This can assure you that they will remain safe.

  •  Inform the doctor whether you need interpreting services. This can be arranged in some hospitals.

  • Carry a list of your current medications.

  •  Inform your doctor whether you are anxious. If you are anxious, the doctor can prescribe oral medication for you. This can help you to remain calm.

  • Ensure that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your MRI scan begins. This is because you need time to settle down and even get screened. You can also trust that you will be able to complete the MRI screening form early enough and submit it.

  • Tell your doctor whether you have a kidney or a liver issue. This can help him know the right method to use during the MRI scan.

  •  Avoid taking meals 4 hours before the scan. You should instead take more water before going for this scan.

  • If you have a kid, you can let him or her to get sedated so that he or she can remain still during the scanning process. This can help to enhance the quality of the images. This is because MRIs are usually very sensitive to motion.


On the other hand, if you want to go for an MRA scan, you should consider the following ideas:

  • You can eat and drink as usual. If you are under medication, you can still take your drugs as usual.

  • You have to wear a gown before going for this scan. You should not get worried that your clothes might get lost. Most hospitals usually allow patients to lock their own clothes before the scan starts. In most facilities, you will find a locker where you can keep your clothes.

  • You should leave any metallic object at home before you come for this scan. If you have pieces of jewelry, rings, and other body implants, you should leave them at home. If you have a metallic implant in your body, you should alert the doctor early enough so that he can reschedule your appointment.

  • Some people usually suffer from claustrophobia. If you typically get anxious whenever you are in a confined place, you can inform your doctor early in advance so that he can give you some drugs. There are some drugs that can help alleviate this situation.

  •  If you are allergic to the contrasts that are used during this scan, you can tell your doctor early in advance so that he can get you some drugs to mitigate this situation. You can take these drugs before the scan starts.

  • You should try to arrive early enough so that you can have enough time to relax and familiarize yourself with the environment. This can also help avoid lateness during the test.


What is the technology used in MRI & MRA?

MRI usually uses a non-invasive technology to produce 3dimensional detailed anatomical images. In most cases, it is used to detect, diagnose, and treat various diseases. As mentioned earlier, the MRI scan usually involves the use of strong magnetic fields and radio waves in order to produce multiple organs in the body. Sometimes, a contrast is typically used so as to help improve the quality of the images produced. MRA on the other hand still uses a magnetic field and radio waves in order to generate pictures of various blood vessels in the body. If your doctor perceives that one of your blood vessels have ruptured, he or she might recommend that you go for this scan.

How long does MRA & MRI take?

Magnetic resonance imaging does not take a lot of time. In most cases, it takes between 15 to 90 minutes. However, this depends on the part being scanned and the number of images needed by the referring doctor. The MRA scan can take between 1 to 2 hours. This usually depends on the part of the body that is undergoing the test.

What can be diagnosed with the two tests?

There are some diseases that can be diagnosed by these two tests. First and foremost, stoke can be diagnosed with either an MRI or MRA. Heart-related issues can also be treated by either MRI or MRA. Brain issues can also be solved using either of these two scans. Consider either of these scans, and you will not regret it. However, this will solely depend on your needs. These scans are genuinely incredible.
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