MRI vs MRA: Difference and Comparison

Diagnosis is very important in the field of health science because it helps to detect the problems caused inside the body.

To diagnose the body, we need certain diagnostic tools that are used very commonly. MRI and MRA both are a type of diagnostic tools that helps to check the human body from the inside.

It helps to view the tissues, organs or body parts. Both use painless technology to examine the body.

MRI and MRA are closely related to one another. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for the common man to understand the difference between the two.

Key Takeaways

  1. MRI scans provide detailed images of soft tissues, organs, and bones, while MRA focuses on blood vessels and blood flow.
  2. MRI aids in diagnosing various conditions, including tumors and joint disorders, whereas MRA helps identify vascular diseases and blockages.
  3. MRI and MRA utilize strong magnetic fields and radio waves for imaging but have different protocols and contrast agents to highlight specific areas.


MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and is equipment that makes use of radio waves and a magnetic field to create images of the organs and tissues in the human body. MRA means magnetic resonance angiography and is a type of MRI that looks at the blood vessels of the body and creates images of arteries.


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MRI is an imaging technique used medically to process the imaging of an internal body part for clinical analysis. The full form of MRI is Magnetic resonance imaging.

The technique used in MRI is radiology, where radio waves are used and then it reflects and forms the picture of the body. Scanners used in MRI generate strong magnetic fields to picturise the image and anatomy of the psychological process of the body.

MRA is a technique based on various technologies used by MRI. MRA is one of the types of MRI.

The full form of MRA is Magnetic Resonance angiography, and the main function of MRA is to create an image of the blood vessels. MRA generates the image of arteries to evaluate for the abnormalities like aneurysms, stenosis, occlusions, etc.

It is also used to examine various arteries present like the neck and brain, the thoracic and abdominal aorta, the renal arteries, and the legs.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMRIMRA
ShowA larger part of the bodyComplex and most intricate parts.
Full formMagnetic Resonance ImagingMagnetic resonance Angiography
InstructionNot using metalNot eating for 4 to 6 hours.
DiagnosesMultiple sclerosis, Spinal cord injuries, tumours, brain injury, spinal cord injuries etc.Detect narrow leg arteries, neck carotid, kidney artery, lung artery, abnormalities etc.
ImageProduces both 2D and 3DOnly 3D

What is MRI?

MRI is used very commonly in clinics and hospitals by radiologists to diagnose and follow up for the disease. MRI scan is considered a better option than a CT scan because it provides better images of the soft tissues like the abdomen or brain.

MRI can sometimes be uncomfortable for patients because a long tube has to be inserted inside the body for a longer period. While performing MRI, patients are required to follow certain instructions there should not be any metal inside the room or in the body as it will be difficult to undergo a safe MRI scan.

Since the invention of the MRI, it has been proven successful for mankind. It was invented in the year the 1970s and 1980s.

Most prominently, it is used in biomedical research and diagnostic medicine. MRI can also be used to create images of non-living things.

Earlier MRI was called NMRI, i.e. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging, but the word nuclear was dropped because of its negative connotation.

Because atom nuclei are also used to absorb radiofrequency, in clinical MRI, hydrogen atoms are used to examine because hydrogen is found in abundance in human beings.

That is why most MRI scan uses a map to scan the location of water and fat in the body. It has a wide range of applications, and it is estimated that more than 25,000 MRI scans are used in the world.

It is used for imaging the spinal cord and brain. There are different types of MRI scans that doctors might ask to do, like MRI of Abnormalities, MRI of blood vessels and heart, MRI of breasts, MRI of bone infections etc.


What is MRA?

MRA is a test in the health sector that helps doctors and physicians to diagnose the medical conditions and diseases of the blood vessels so they can be treated. Like MRI, it also uses radiofrequency.

MRA help the doctor to provide the complex and intricate details of the internal body. With radio waves and magnetic fields, computers create an image of the body’s main arteries.

Unlike X-rays, it doesn’t use ionising radiation for diagnosis. MRA can be combined with any of three technologies for imaging MRI, CT scan and Fluoroscopy.

MRA works very similarly to MRI works. It can be said as one of the types of MRI.

But the patients have to lay still so that radiologists can perform MRA carefully. MRA can be performed with or without the contrast material.

When a contrast material is injected using a small intravenous (IV) catheter, it helps to improve the quality of the image. But if patients have any allergies, then contrast material is not used.

It is injected into the forearm. For providing images, MRA requires 30 to 90 minutes.

Certain instruction needs to be followed while performing MRA, like doctors may instruct patients not to eat or drink for four to six hours before the test is to be performed. A metallic device like pacemakers or artificial heart valves will not allow the MRA test to be formed.

Pregnant women and if a person is overweight will also prevent them from taking MRA. MRA helps to examine the blood’s passage to different parts like the kidney, brain and legs.

If there is a blockage or blood is moving at a faster rate, then MRA will highlight it.

Main Differences Between MRI and MRA

  1. Doctors use MRI for examining larger parts of the body like the brain, abdomen etc. MRA is used to examine the most complex and intricate parts of the body, i.e. arteries, blockage, blood etc.
  2. The full form of MRI is Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The full form of MRA is Magnetic resonance Angiography.
  3. While performing an MRI scan, it is advised by doctors that metal should not be worn or kept in the room. While performing an MRA scan, it is advised by doctors that eating and drinking are prohibited for a few hours until it is performed.
  4. MRI diagnoses several diseases like Multiple sclerosis, Spinal cord injuries, tumours, brain injury, spinal cord injuries etc. MRA diagnoses several abnormalities, like detecting narrow leg arteries, neck carotid, kidney artery, lung artery, etc.
  5. MRI scan produces both 2D and 3D images. But MRA scan produces only 3D images.
Difference Between MRI and MRA

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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