Health InformationWhat is the different between MRI and MRA?

26 Nov 2021
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Should you take an MRI or MRA?

Recently, many people have been having an MRI. IAs MRI has been commercialized and medical insurance standards have been relaxed from a few years ago, it seems that access to MRI has become better than before.In particular, brain MRI is often used for health checkups.

However, there are many people who are confused about the examination even after taking a brain MRI. They think it's just a brain scan and ask what kind of test it was after the examination. Or, after only taking an MRI, there are people who regret not being able to check the state of the blood vessels, saying, “It was a brain scan, so I thought it would contain blood vessels of the brain.” While MRI and MRA are becoming more common in terms of screening, many people seem to be confused about these tests.

MRI is an abbreviation of Magnetic Resonance Image. The image is obtained by generating high-frequency waves in a large magnetic barrel, and measuring the signals returned by the tissues of the human body in response to them. MRI is used for detailed examination of various soft tissues because it can take a closer look at cross-sections of body parts such as the spine and joints as well as the brain and has excellent image contrast and resolution.


Brain MRI can show lesions of the brain parenchyma, that is, stroke, brain tumor, hydrocephalus, and inflammatory lesions of the brain. 

MRA is not a different examination from MRI. It is an examination that precisely looks at only blood vessels with an MRI machine. MRA stands for Magnetic Resonance Angiography, and ‘A’ in MRA means blood vessels. Therefore, MRA can confirm cerebral aneurysms, narrowing or occlusion of blood vessels, and vascular malformations.


So, is it better to have an MRI that looks at the brain parenchyma or an MRI that looks at the blood vessels of the brain? Depending on the symptoms and suspected disease, only one may be filmed, but in many cases, both must be viewed together to draw a conclusion, so in some cases, both are taken.

For example, if there is a cerebral infarction by taking an MRI, an MRA should be taken together to find out whether the cause of the cerebral infarction is stenosis of the cerebral blood vessels, and if there is stenosis, to what extent. So, what kind of exam is good, depends on the case.


For instance, due to headache and dizziness, if you visis the hospital and get a brain MRI and MRA done, in many cases there might be no abnormal findings. Brain MRI and MRA are tests to determine whether the cause of headache and dizziness is due to an organic disease of the brain, and doing these scans does not reveal the cause. If you are considering an MRI or MRA examination because of symptoms such as headache, dizziness, or memory loss, it is advisable to decide whether and what type of examination to take after consultation.

Source: The Korea Health News

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