Is an MRI with contrast and MRA the same?

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Is an MRI with contrast and MRA the same?

 Unearth: Is an MRI with contrast and MRA the same?

No. An MRI with contrast and an MRA is not the same thing. Of course, both are types of MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques, but that does not mean they are the same!

An MRI with contrast is the MRI technique where apart from the use of strong magnetic fields are radio waves, a contrast material called gadolinium-based contrast agents or GCAs lay used to culminate a detailed image of your internal body structures. This time, the clarity & decipherability of the MRI findings are perhaps greater than a static MRI technique that does not involve any contrast dye.


An MRA stands for Magnetic Resonance Angiogram. It is a group of MRI techniques coming together for a purpose and is reserved solely for the examination of your blood vessels & the bloodstream inside them. In this process, the same MRI scanner lay used but not to assess the organs or tissues surrounding your blood vessels this time! The image accuracy of your blood flow is much sharper and clearer herein if compared to a static MRI.


That’s not all!

To understand why an MRI with contrast and an MRA is not the same despite falling under the category of MRI techniques, you have to read till the end!

Differences in the Uses: MRI with Contrast Vs MRA


An MRI with Contrast is used to assess diseases and disorders that may not be visible in a static MRI!

  • An MRI with contrast is used to assess small tumors growing under your skin & flesh, and also their shape, precise location, and nature, i.e., whether the tumor is benign or malignant. If the latter, this technique can also help trace the stage of cancerous growth.
  • An MRI with contrast is used in medical science to detect any kind of brain abnormalities. It is because our brains are full of various soft tissues and differentiation between them stands salient to locating the origin of the disease, which this technique serves with!
  • An MRI with contrast is used to trace & examine inflammations in your organs or soft tissues & brings forth clarity in its extent, thereby allowing the doctor to decide on a suitable treatment regimen.
  • A CE-MRI is used to diagnose various spine diseases like herniated discs, compressed discs, pinched nerves, multiple sclerosis, spine infections, and so forth, which may not be clear in the imaging otherwise.
  • An MRI with contrast is used to find the blood supply to certain organs and assess your heart & blood vessels accurately & with more precision.

On the other hand,

An MRA is not such a versatile diagnostic technique. Its main purpose is to examine the blood vessels thoroughly. In this regard, an MRA is used under various circumstances as follows!

  • An MRA lay is used to assess a narrowed artery, or in other words, an aortic coarctation. Simultaneously, this technique lay used to examine a bulged-out blood vessel.
  • An MRA lay is used to assess bleeding along the walls of the aorta or maybe inside it and whether they have stimulated a situation of aorta dissection or separation. It can also accurately trace a rupture in the aorta.
  • An MRA lay used to examine the cause of stroke & what further damage it created & to what extent.
  • An MR Angiography lay is used to detect blockage in the blood vessels or a reduced supply of blow flow to certain organs.
  • An MRA lay is used to diagnose a condition like an aneurysm where the walls of the artery get weak & damaged.
  • An MRA also lay used to determine renal artery stenosis, the condition in which the blood vessels of your kidney narrows down, causing high blood pressure and sometimes even renal (or kidney) failure.

Differences in the Process of Diagnosis: MRI with contrast Vs MRA

First & foremost, you must remember that in both cases, the same donut-like semi-enclosed machine lay used for the scanning!


While during the former, the radiologist shall inject the contrast dye in your vein through an IV needle before you are moved into the scanner, the latter may or may not indulge in this step, depending on whether the doctor orders an MRA with contrast or without it!


That is the only difference in the process of diagnosis that an MRI with contrast and an MRA hold. Otherwise, the non-invasive procedure is the same for both!

Differences in the Advantages & Disadvantages: MRI with contrast Vs MRA


When we talk about the advantages & disadvantages of these two diagnostic techniques, I must say that the latter stands out over the former!

Do you know what?

It is simply because an MRA, when not indulging in contrast, shall leave no side effects and give no pain at all; while the scan is on!


An MRI with contrast is bound to bring some mild side effects like nausea, headache, skin rashes, itching, fatigue, sore throat, fever or chills, etc. These side effects are an outcome of the dye, which is likely to exit within 24 hours after the test, and so are the side effects!

Yet again,

There stands an advantage of an MRI with contrast that does not apply to an MRA technique. Are you wondering what it is? It is nothing but the wide range of health problems that an MRI with contrast can help detect, while an MRA is limited to the diagnosis of your blood vessels only! In fact, an MRI with contrast can serve the primary purpose of an MRA but not vice-versa.

Summing Up 


Are the differences between an MRI with contrast and MRA clear to you? If not, you can anytime drop us your queries at

I hope the blog served its purpose. We shall come back again with another soon!

Till then,

Stay tuned & stay safe!

Mail us at [email protected]

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Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
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