What is a Chest MRA?
A chest MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the blood vessels of the chest organs in a non-invasive manner.
This scan is also known as Chest Magnetic Resonance Angiogram, MR Angiography of the Chest, or Chest MR Angiography. In this scan, multiple images of the blood vessels of the heart and lungs are generated using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
The chest MRA is a special type of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. It helps doctors in diagnosing and treating diseases of the blood vessels in the chest such as plaque disease (atherosclerosis) in which a build-up of cholesterol, fats, and other substances (called plaque) gets collected in or on the blood vessel walls. Doctors also use it to assess the flow of blood in the heart.
The chest MRA is also used as a supplementary exam to verify the findings of a chest MRI, chest CT scan, and chest X-ray.
The MRA of the chest may be done with or without the use of contrast material (dye) that is injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the blood vessels are seen more clearly in the scanned images.
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Who Should Get a Chest MRA?
Your doctor may recommend a chest MRA if you have one or more of the following symptoms or ailments:
- A cough that won’t go away
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Unexplained chest pain and fatigue
- Chest tightness or wheezing (noisy breathing)
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent chest infections
- Decreased ability to exercise
- Sudden weight loss
What is the Purpose of a Chest MRA?
Your doctor may recommend an MRA of the chest to:
- Check for weakened or swelled blood vessels (aneurysms).
- Detect blocked blood vessels and assess the flow of blood to the heart.
- Find injured blood vessels after an injury or accident.
- Detect plaque that narrows or blocks blood vessels.
- Diagnose clumps of blood (blood clots) in the blood vessels.
- Detect problems with the structure of the blood vessels.
- Check if there is bleeding in and along the wall of the largest blood vessel in the heart (aorta).
- Look for birth defects in the blood vessels.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Heart MRI (Cardiac MRI) to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the heart. Your doctor may also recommend a Cholesterol Test (Lipid Panel) test to measure the total cholesterol being carried in your blood and assess your risk for heart attack. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is Chest MRA Performed?
- Before starting the MRA of the chest, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body, including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to lie still on the MRI scanner table, which will move slowly through a doughnut-shaped MRI machine.
- Once you are inside the MRI machine, multiple images of your chest area will be taken and these will be displayed on a monitor.
- At certain points during the scan, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
In case your doctor has asked you to take a chest MRA with contrast, then contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly after an initial series of scans. Additional images will be taken following the injection.
How Long Does a Chest MRA Take?
An MRA of the chest is usually completed between 30 to 60 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Chest MRA?
No. An MRA is a painless imaging test that doesn’t use radiation.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Chest MRA?
- People who have implants such as a cardiac pacemaker, coronary stent, orthopedic rods, and plates, which contain metal, may face certain risks. The magnets used in an MRA can make implanted pins or screws move in the body or cause problems with pacemakers.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in an MRA.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the chest MRA is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Chest MRA?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.