Difference Between MRI and MRA

Most of us are aware of the medical term MRI that is used to produce 2D images of organs inside our bodies using radio waves. This is a good way to detect any anomalies or ailments inside our body without using any kind of surgery, that is MRI is a non invasive technique. Of late there has been another term called MRA being used for detection of ailments, particularly those requiring checking flow of blood in our arteries. Both techniques are nearly identical with the difference lying in their purposes. This article will try to find out the differences between MRI and MRA.

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging while MRA refers to Magnetic Resonance Angiography. Both are diagnostic techniques that are resorted to for detection of health problems. Both make use of a powerful magnetic field, high frequency radio waves and computers to produce images of internal organs and tissues inside our bodies. For a patient, going through an MRI or an MRA may look like identical processes but doctors use them for different purposes. While MRI is an ideal way to make an assessment of internal organs of the body, MRA is useful to evaluate the arteries in the body.

Resonance created by magnetic fields and radio waves produce detailed images of organs inside our bodies on computer monitors in the case of MRI. Doctors examine these images and draw conclusions about possible ailments which are more accurate than conclusions drawn with the help of ultrasound or X-rays. The main purpose of MRA is to draw images of arteries carrying blood inside the brain or heart. Doctors examine these images to find out any anomalies or obstruction of flow of blood causing serious ailments. Any blockage in our arteries is clearly visible in the images drawn with the help of MRA. These images also show deposit of fat or calcium around blood vessels thus helping doctors to diagnose cardio vascular diseases with certainty.

MRA is typically used to detect aneurysms, atherosclerosis, dissection, vasculitis, and other congenital malformations. On the other hand, MRI is used to detect injuries, abnormalities or diseases in internal organs. MRI’s are particularly helpful in diagnosing tumors and cancers inside body. On the other hand, wear and tear of arteries, inflammation, plaque formation, narrowing and outpoachings of arteries are easily detected with the help of MRA’s.

In many cases, doctors who are not satisfied with MRI results may make the patient undergo an MRA as well to draw a conclusion on the basis of images obtained from both MRI as well as MRA.


• MRI is older than MRA

• Both make use of powerful magnetic field and radio waves. Resonance of these waves produce images on computers that are examined by doctors to draw conclusions.

• Same machines are used for both MRI and MRA

• MRI is used to study internal organs to diagnose diseases while MRA focuses on blood flow in arteries to derive conclusions.

• Both are non invasive diagnostic techniques.