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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA)

A Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA) provides very detailed images of the blood vessels to identify the following conditions:

MRA uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce these images. No radiation or x-rays are used for this test. This exam:

  • Requires specially trained doctors
  • Uses new and complex computer software
  • Can limit the need for more invasive testing
  • Takes about 60 minutes to perform

A contrast agent may be used to improve the quality of the images. Non-iodinated, gadolinium-based contrast media is often administered as part of this examination. Gadolinium is a rare earth element that has specific properties useful in a magnetic field, making it a crucial component of magnetic resonance contrast media. Unlike the x-ray contrast dye, the MRA contrast agent does not:

  • Contain iodine and is safer for the kidneys
  • Does not interact with most medications

All patients undergoing MRA need to be screened to ensure that certain safeguards are in place. If contrast will be administered, you will have a point-of-care test to determine your kidney function before your MRA. Based on the results, your doctors will adjust the dose of contrast administered or may perform the test without contrast. If you have any metal inside of your body, please tell your doctor before the exam. This may include:

  • Heart pacemaker and implantable defibrillator (ICD)
  • Aneurysm clip
  • Ear or eye implant
  • Joint or bone rods or clips
  • Metal plate
  • Bullets or shrapnel

If you have any of the above in your body, a physician will review the protocol and determine if it is safe to perform a MRA.

Clinical Trials

For more information regarding clinical trials related to vascular disease, visit the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an e-mail or call 312-926-4000.

Contact Us Today

For more information regarding vascular disease, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 866-662-8467. To schedule an appointment, please call 312-695-4965 or request a first-time appointment online.


Last UpdateApril 20, 2012