MRI is a method of producing extremely detailed pictures of body tissues and organs without the need for x-rays. The electromagnetic energy that is released when exposing a patient to radio waves in a strong magnetic field is measured and analyzed by a computer, which forms 2D or 3D images that may be viewed on a computer monitor. MR angiography (MRA) is an MRI study of the blood vessels. It utilizes MR technology to detect, diagnose and guide the treatment of heart disorders, stroke and blood vessel diseases. MRA provides detailed images of blood vessels even without intravenous contrast medium. Frequently, a special form of intravenous contrast, gadolinium, is used which markedly improves the quality of the MR images of the vessels.
MRA provides detailed images of blood vessels without having to insert a catheter directly into an artery. There is no significant recovery time and cost is substantially less when compared to standard angiography. A very small amount of gadolinium based contrast medium may be injected, unlike catheter angiography which uses a large volume of iodine-based contrast. MR contrast is very safe and the risk of an allergic reaction is extremely low.
You will be placed on a special table and positioned inside the opening of the MRI scanner. A typical exam consists of 2 to 6 imaging sequences, each taking from 2 to 10 minutes. Each sequence provides a specific image orientation and a specified degree of image clarity or contrast. Depending on the type of exam being done, the total time needed can range from 10 to 60 minutes, not counting the time needed to change clothing, have an IV put in, and answer questions. When contrast medium is needed, a substance called gadolinium is given by IV injection during one of the imaging sequences.
Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician's order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 704-442-4390 ext. 1. For Cabarrus County patients, you can have your procedure scheduled at our freestanding MRI center, Charlotte Radiology Access Medical Imaging. Have your provider's office call scheduling at 704-979-1264.