Brain AngiographyAngiography is a test that can be performed to diagnose and treat conditions of the blood vessels. Typically, a contrast medium is injected into a vein, and then the blood vessels can be viewed three-dimensionally using an imaging scan. Using this technique, blood vessels (veins and arteries) in the brain can be analyzed for stenoses (blockages) and aneurysms. The two types of angiography tests performed at The Radiology Clinic include Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) and Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA).

Magnetic Resonance Angiography

MRA utilizes a magnetic field and radiofrequency waves to produce detailed images of the blood vessels.

What to Expect

Before the MRA test, the patient will need to notify the provider of any metal in or outside of the body, and will be asked to remove any items that could cause problems with the test. This test may be performed with or without contrast, but if it is performed with contrast this will be injected into a vein utilizing an IV catheter. The patient will then lie on the exam table outside of the MRI scanner, and the table will move into the MRI machine.  After the MRA test is complete, the fellowship trained neuroradiologists at The Radiology Clinic will review the images, looking for any blockages or abnormalities.

Risks and Benefits

MR angiography is typically a very safe procedure.  Your imaging specialists will ask many questions before the test to ensure this does not happen.  Benefits of MRA are that it is a noninvasive test and does not expose the patient to radiation. The duration of the test is shorter than traditional catheter angiography and there is no recovery period. Also, the contrast used in MRA is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than the contrast used in CT scans.

Computed Tomography Angiography

CTA utilizes a CT scan, or type of X-ray, to visualize the blood vessels. Intravenous contrast is typically used with this type of test.

What to Expect

Before the test begins, the patient may be asked to change into a gown. Then, the patient will lay down on the examination table and the contrast dye will be injected via an IV into a vein in the patient’s arm. This may feel warm, and the patient may experience a metallic taste. Once the patient is placed correctly and the technologist leaves the room, the test will begin. The test is painless and typically lasts about 30 seconds.  After the test, the IV will be removed and the patient can typically return to normal activities.

Risks and Benefits

CT angiography is typically safe for most patients without history of intravenous contrast allergy and renal insufficiency.  Benefits of CTA are that it is usually a much shorter test than MRA, and the amount of radiation is typically not significant to affect the patient.

Which Test is Right For You?

At The Radiology Clinic, our fellowship trained board certified radiologists provide the best imaging quality and reporting to make the appropriate diagnosis in a timely manner to help you get better.

For more details about our services and to make an appointment, please contact The Radiology Clinic via phone (301-217-0500), email (, or our website.