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MR angiography of cerebral arteries

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

This procedure is a highly informative and safe examination method that allows you to visualize the structure and functional changes of the cerebral arteries, determine the anatomy of the location of the vessel, identify structural anomalies, determine the width of the lumen, and the degree of stenosis. When examining blood vessels, magnetic resonance imaging is performed in a special mode, which distinguishes mobile tissue (blood) from immobile surrounding tissue, making it possible to obtain an image of the vessels without using a contrast agent. Special programs allow you to create a three-dimensional image of the vascular bed of the investigated area.

Benefits of MR angiography of cerebral vessels:

  • Unlike CT angiography, the patient is not exposed to ionizing radiation.
  • It can be carried out to patients of any age, starting from infants, and including pregnant women from the 13th week and lactating.
  • In magnetic resonance angiography, contrasting is not used; therefore, there is no need for a vein puncture, placement of a catheter, and associated discomfort;
  • Due to the absence of the need for the introduction of contrast, the method is indispensable when examining people with impaired renal function, thyroid gland, prone to allergic reactions, lactating, and pregnant women.
  • Before CT angiography, preparation is required (tests, doctor’s consultation, and, if indicated, samples with iodine); MR angiography does not require preparation.
  • MR angiogram of cerebral vessels, if necessary, can be repeated several times without harm to the patient’s body.
  • The determining factor for the normal productive functioning of the brain is its good blood supply. The brain substance needs a large number of nutrients and oxygen, and with a lack of them, brain activity is impaired. Intracranial vessels are directly involved in the blood supply to the brain, and the vessels of the neck are the only way for blood to flow to it. Therefore, the assessment of the state of these structures plays an important role in the diagnosis of various disorders of brain activity.

magnetic resonance

Preparations and types of MR angiogram

Before doing tomography, you need to read the information below:

  • Preparation for magnetic resonance angiography of cerebral arteries

The patient does not need to prepare for MR angiography of the head vessels. There is no need to change the habitual lifestyle and diet; all prescribed medications can be taken.

  • Conducting research for magnetic resonance angiography of cerebral arteries

The procedure for examining MR angiography of cerebral vessels takes about 20 minutes. The patient is in the tomograph in the supine position. It is crucial to remain still during the examination, as the quality of the images is greatly reduced while moving.


Cerebral angiography of the cerebral vessels is done by taking a series of images after injecting an iodine-containing drug that illuminates the tissue. Methods of carrying this out include X-ray and MR-angiography on a magnetic resonance imager. The risk of manipulation depends on the method of administration of the contrast agent.

Depending on the scope of the study, cerebral angiography is divided into two types:

  • total (general);
  • selective (locally).
  1. Total cerebral.  Its angiography is performed when it is necessary to obtain information about the entire vascular system of the brain and skull tissues. Examine the rate of blood flow and nutrition of the brain, and find the location of the tumor or a place that obstructs blood flow. This examination is done under general anesthesia, and a catheter is inserted to deliver contrast through the femoral or brachial artery. Simultaneously with the diagnosis, aneurysm removal or other necessary operation can be performed.
  2. Selective cerebral. Its resonance angiography involves examining a specific area of ​​the head. This type of examination is prescribed when pathology was previously identified and the data need to be clarified. In selective angiography, a staining agent is injected into the artery responsible for the blood supply to the affected area.

Distinguish between direct and indirect access when performing radiopaque angiography. In the first case, the contrast agent is injected directly into the carotid artery; in the second, access is performed through the femoral artery using a catheter. Cerebral angiography helps prevent stroke and prescribes prophylaxis of vascular pathologies. The diagnosis is prescribed by a neurologist or neurosurgeon.

mr angiogram 1

Indications and risks of MR angiogram in cerebral arteries

To prepare yourself for the procedure, study the details of how it happens and what you can learn from it.

  1. Magnetic resonance imaging in angiography mode shows the following pathologies:
  • stenosis;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • tumor;
  • malformations;
  • blood clots;
  • aneurysms.

MRI angiography is performed without contrast, except for the diagnosis of the detected tumor. In the case of a tumor pathology study, the contrast agent brighter visualizes the contour of capillaries, veins, arteries and provides complete information about the extent of the spread of the process. 

  • The state of the vessels is checked not only on the MRI machine but also using the X-ray method with the obligatory administration of a contrast agent. 
  • It can be an X-ray machine or a computed tomography. 
  • Thus, the procedure involves radiation exposure and the use of contrast; this is how MRI differs from angiography. 
  • Each examination has its indications and contraindications, so only the doctor determines what is best for the patient, MRI or angiography. 
  • The difference between MRI angiography and MRI lies in the subject and purpose of the examination.

MRI of the brain in angiography mode visualizes pathologies of the structure of the brain and blood vessels simultaneously. This method is: 

  • safe; 
  • non-invasive; 
  • highly informative;
  • Magnetic resonance angiography helps measure blood flow; 
  • detect pathological changes at an early stage; 
  • determine the tactics of treatment.

Risks associated with MR angiogram

There are relatively few complications associated with MR angiography. 

The most common possible complications are: 

  • a feeling of warmth; 
  • an unpleasant taste in the mouth, which can occur during injection of contrast medium;
  • contrast hypersensitivity or even an allergic reaction is rare; 
  • during preparation for the study, the doctor should ask the patient about the presence of renal failure. In the case of a positive response from the patient, it may be necessary to refuse the use of a contrast medium.


  • What is better CT or MRI angiography?

Both CT angiography and MR angiogram of the brain are informative. It is believed that a CT scan of cerebral vessels will better show aneurysms and circulatory disorders in the acute phase and vascular disorders after TBI. On the MRI of the cerebral vessels, deformities of the great vessels of the head will be best seen.

  • Which doctor can describe an MRI?

Only experienced specialists – qualified radiologists can describe the obtained images. They carefully study the picture, determine the pathology, and compare it with healthy tissues.

  • How is an MR angiogram performed?

You lie down in a large tunnel tube which is an MRI scanner. To make your blood vessels easier to see, a contrast dye may be added to the bloodstream. In this way, MRA is carried out.

  • How long does an MRA last?

It depends on which part of the body you are examining. In general, scanning takes from an hour to two. MR angiography of the cerebral vessels takes about 20 minutes. It is very important not to move during scanning, otherwise, the pictures may not be clear.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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