Basics: What is an MRA of the Abdomen?
MRA stands for magnetic resonance angiography. In short, MRA of the Abdomen is a relatively quick (20 minutes), extremely accurate noninvasive test (other than an IV), to get a close look at the arteries in your abdomen (belly). It is extremely good at finding narrowed or blocked arteries, which leads to poor circulation (ischemia), and pain. In the abdomen, the arteries supply many important organs, including the liver, spleen, kidneys, adrenal glands, stomach, as well as small and large intestines. Problems with arteries leading to these organs can cause a multitude of symptoms.
MRA of the Abdomen is important for patients suspected of having abdominal aortic aneurysms, patients with high blood pressure (evaluate renal arteries), and questions of insufficient blood flow to the GI tract claudication.
Answers to commonly asked questions about MRA of the Abdomen:
Q: How do I decide whether to get an MRA of the Abdomen versus a CTA?
A: I would always get an MRA rather than a CTA unless the patient cant get an MRI (pacemaker, etc.). MRA uses no radiation, and the bones on CTA make it much harder to read. In addition, patients with renal insufficiency may be at risk of additional injury to the kidneys from CTA contrast (dye). However, if the patient cant have an MRA, then CTA is still an excellent exam, and should be obtained instead of invasive angiography. CTA does provide some unique information that MRA does not, as it demonstrates calcific plaque. This may be important in treatment planning, and may end up being a complimentary study.
Discussion of images above:
1. Chronic infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm with mural thrombus to maximum approximately 5.1 cm in diameter.
2. Occlusion of the right common iliac artery at its origin.
3. Wide patency of the femoral-femoral bypass graft.
4. 25% narrowing at the origin of the right renal artery.
5. 75% narrowing and 50% to 75% narrowing of the origins of the dual left renal artery supply respectively.