MR angiography (MRA) is an MRI study of the blood vessels. It utilizes MRI technology to detect, diagnose and aid the treatment of heart disorders, stroke, and blood vessel diseases. MRA provides detailed images of blood vessels without using any contrast material, although a special form of contrast material is often given to make the MRI images even clearer. The procedure is painless, and the magnetic field is not known to cause tissue damage of any kind.
Common Uses and Information- MRA
- Many patients with arterial disease are now being treated in the radiology department rather than undergoing surgery in an operating room. MRA is a very useful way of finding problems with blood vessels and determining how to best to treat those problems.
- The carotid arteries in the neck that conduct blood to the brain are a common site of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which may severely narrow or block off an artery, reducing blood flow to the brain and even causing a stroke. If an ultrasound study shows that such disease is present, many surgeons will perform the necessary operation after confirmation with MRA, dispensing with the need for conventional, invasive vascular techniques.
- MRA has found wide use in checking patients for diseased intracranial (in the head) arteries.
- MRA is also used to detect disease in any of the vessels in the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and extremities.
- Patients with a family history of arterial aneurysm, a ballooning out of a segment of the vessel wall, can be screened with MRA to see if they have a similar disorder that has not produced symptoms. If an aneurysm is found, it may be treated, possibly avoiding serious or fatal bleeding.
MRI of the Body- Abdomen & Pelvis
MRI of the body provides clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. It has proven to be extremely valuable for the diagnosis of a broad range of pathologic conditions in all parts of the body. It allows physicians to evaluate some body structures that may not be as visible with other imaging methods.
Common Uses and Information- MRI of the Body
- Organs of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis are examined in high detail with MRI, enabling the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders.
- Because no radiation exposure is involved, MRI is often the preferred diagnostic tool for examination of the male and female reproductive system and urinary tract.
MRI of the Head
MRI of the head has proven to be very helpful to radiologists in diagnosing tumors of the brain as well as disorders of the eyes, sinuses, and the inner ear. An MRI of the head is the most sensitive exam for brain tumors, strokes and certain chronic disorders of the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis.
Common Uses and Information- MRI of the Head
- Detection of tumors, strokes, and numerous disorders within the nervous system.
- Can depict brain function.
- Detection of areas with tissue abnormality in patients with disease of the eyes, sinuses, or the inner ear.
- Images of the brain, spine, joints and soft tissue structures are clearer and more detailed than with other imaging methods.
- Can detect strokes at a very early stage.
- There is no exposure to x-rays during an MRI study.
Benefits of Head MRIs
The parts of the musculoskeletal system that are most frequently imaged with MRI are the spine, knee and shoulder. However, MRI has also been used to study almost every joint in the body including the hips, wrists, and feet. Because MRI can give such clear pictures of soft tissue structures near and around bones, it is usually the best choice for examination of the body's major joints, the spine for disk disease, and soft tissues of the extremities.
Common Uses and Information- Musculoskeletal MRI
- Widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, as well as work-related disorders caused by repeated strain, vibration or forceful impact.
- Locate and identify the cause of pain, swelling or bleeding in the tissues in and around the joints and bones.
- Detection of even very small tears and injuries to tendons, ligaments and muscles and some fractures that cannot be seen on x-rays.
- Diagnosis of degenerative disorders such as arthritis, deterioration of joint surfaces, or a herniated disk.
- MR images of the soft tissue structures of the body such as the muscles, tendons, joints and blood vessels, are clearer and more detailed than with other imaging methods.
- MRI enables the detection of abnormalities, injuries and diseases that might be obscured by bone tissue with other imaging methods.
- MRI provides a fast, noninvasive way to assess a variety of muscle and joint injuries and disorders.
- The detail of MR images makes them an invaluable tool in early diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and infection.
MRI of the Spine
MRI is most frequently used to determine the etiology of neck, lowback and radiating extremity pain. MRI of the spine is also used to evaluate tumors and neurologic conditions. The examination shows the anatomy of the vertebrae and discs that make up the spine, as well as the spinal cord and the neural foramen (the spaces between the vertebrae through which nerves pass). MRI is frequently done to help plan surgeries on the spine such as the decompression of a pinched nerve or spinal fusion. MRI is performed after spinal surgery to re-evaluate diseased discs and less frequently to look for post-operative scarring, bleeding or infection.
Common Uses and Information- MRI of the Spine
- Detect of bulging, degenerated or extruded intervertebral disc, a frequent cause of neck, lower back pain, and radiculopathy/sciatica.
- Diagnosis of compressed (or pinched) and inflamed nerves.
- MRI is an excellent method of obtaining clear, detailed images of the bony structures and soft tissues of the spine, including the spinal cord. It demonstrates abnormalities, injuries and diseases in the spinal region that may not be visualized with other imaging methods.
- It is especially helpful for diagnosing or ruling out acute compression of the spinal cord when clinical examination shows muscle weakness or paralysis.
- MRI is able to detect subtle changes in the vertebral column that may be an early stage of infection or tumor. The procedure may be better than CT or bone scans for evaluating tumors, abscesses and other masses near the spinal cord.