MRI Angiography Renal Scan - Complete Procedure

MRI Angiography Renal Scan - Complete Procedure

MRI angiography renal scan, also known as renal magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), is a medical imaging procedure that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to examine the blood vessels of the kidneys.

What is MRI Angiography Renal scan? What is the procedure and Why is it Done?

MRI angiography renal scan, also known as renal magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), is a medical imaging procedure that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to examine the blood vessels of the kidneys. It provides detailed images of the renal arteries and veins, allowing healthcare professionals to assess the blood flow and detect any abnormalities or blockages.

During an MRI angiography renal scan, a contrast agent may be injected into a vein in the arm to enhance the visibility of blood vessels. This contrast material helps to differentiate the blood vessels from surrounding tissues, enabling clearer imaging of the renal vasculature.

The procedure is non-invasive and does not involve the use of ionizing radiation, making it a safer alternative to other imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) angiography. It provides high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the renal blood vessels, which can help in diagnosing conditions such as renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the renal arteries), renal vein thrombosis (blood clot in the renal veins), and other vascular abnormalities affecting the kidneys.

MRI angiography renal scans are typically ordered by physicians when there is suspicion of kidney-related vascular diseases, or as part of preoperative planning for kidney transplant candidates. The images obtained from the scan can assist in treatment decisions and guide surgical interventions if necessary. It is important to note that the specific protocols and techniques used may vary depending on the medical facility and the patient's individual case.

In What Conditions is MRI Angio Renal Scan used?

MRI angiography renal scan is used in various conditions related to the renal vasculature. Some of the common indications for this imaging procedure include:

  1. Renal Artery Stenosis: MRI angiography renal scan is helpful in diagnosing and evaluating renal artery stenosis, which is the narrowing of the renal arteries. This condition can lead to reduced blood flow to the kidneys, resulting in hypertension (high blood pressure) and kidney dysfunction.
  2. Renal Vein Thrombosis: It is used to detect and assess renal vein thrombosis, which is the formation of blood clots in the renal veins. Renal vein thrombosis can cause kidney damage and impair blood flow.
  3. Renal Vascular Malformations: MRI angiography can identify and characterize various renal vascular malformations, such as arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connections between arteries and veins), aneurysms (abnormal bulging of blood vessels), or other structural abnormalities affecting the renal blood vessels.
  4. Preoperative Planning for Kidney Transplantation: Prior to kidney transplantation, MRI angiography renal scan may be performed to assess the anatomy and viability of the renal arteries and veins. This information is crucial for surgical planning to ensure proper vascular connections during the transplant procedure.
  5. Monitoring Vascular Interventions: Following vascular interventions such as angioplasty (balloon dilation) or stenting to treat renal artery stenosis, MRI angiography can be used to assess the success of the procedure and monitor the patency (openness) of the treated vessels.

It's important to note that the decision to perform an MRI angiography renal scan is made by a healthcare professional based on the individual patient's clinical symptoms, medical history, and suspected or known renal vascular conditions. The specific conditions for which this scan is used may vary depending on the patient's circumstances.

What is the Procedure of MRI Angiography Renal Scan?

The procedure for an MRI angiography renal scan typically involves the following steps:

  1. Preparation: Prior to the scan, you will likely be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal objects or jewelry that could interfere with the MRI machine's magnetic field. Once prepared, you will be positioned on a movable table that will slide into the MRI machine.
  2. Administration of Contrast Agent (if necessary): In some cases, a contrast agent (a dye) may be administered intravenously to enhance the visibility of the blood vessels. If a contrast agent is needed, a healthcare professional will insert an IV line into your arm or hand to deliver the contrast material during the scan.
  3. Positioning: You will be positioned on the MRI table, which will then slide into the cylindrical MRI machine. It is important that you do not move during the MRI scan process or else it will affect the clarity and precision of the scan.
  4. Scanning Process: The MRI technician will leave the room and operate the MRI machine from a separate control room. You may hear loud knocking or buzzing noises during the scan, but earplugs or headphones will be provided to minimize the noise. Communication with the technician can be done through an intercom system.
  5. Contrast Agent Injection (if applicable): If a contrast agent is used, it will be injected into the IV line during the scan to highlight the blood vessels and improve the clarity of the renal vasculature images.
  6. Image Acquisition: Using a strong magnetic field and radio waves, the MRI machine will capture multiple images from different angles. These images will then be processed by a computer to create a three-dimensional representation of the renal blood vessels.
  7. Completion of the Scan: Once the scan is finished, the technician will slide the table out of the MRI machine. If a contrast agent was used, the IV line may be removed at this point.

The entire procedure generally takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the specific imaging protocol and the complexity of the case. After the scan, you can resume your normal activities unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare provider. The images will be reviewed and interpreted by a radiologist, who will then provide a report to your referring physician for further evaluation and treatment planning.

What are the Contraindications of MRI Angiography Renal Scan?

MRI angiography renal scan is generally considered a safe procedure, but there are certain contraindications and precautions to be aware of. These include:

  1. Pregnancy: MRI scans, including MRI angiography, should be avoided during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Although there is no known harmful effect of MRI on the developing fetus, it is typically recommended to err on the side of caution. If there is a potential need for the scan in a pregnant woman, the benefits and risks should be carefully evaluated by the healthcare provider.
  2. Metallic Implants and Devices: Some metallic implants, devices, or objects in the body may be contraindicated or require special precautions for an MRI angiography renal scan. These can include pacemakers, certain types of cochlear implants, some neurostimulators, and some intrauterine devices (IUDs). It is important to inform the healthcare provider about any metallic implants or devices you may have to ensure their compatibility with MRI.
  3. Claustrophobia: MRI scanners are large, cylindrical machines, and the scan can be performed in a confined space. Individuals with severe claustrophobia may have difficulty tolerating the procedure. In such cases, the healthcare provider may consider alternative imaging methods or may provide strategies to help manage the anxiety.
  4. Renal Impairment: Individuals with severe renal impairment or end-stage renal disease may have difficulty eliminating the contrast agent used in MRI angiography renal scans. The contrast agent can potentially further worsen kidney function or cause complications. Therefore, the risks and benefits of the procedure should be carefully assessed in such cases.
  5. Allergy to Contrast Agent: If a contrast agent is being used, individuals with a known allergy to contrast materials or gadolinium (a common contrast agent used in MRI) may be at risk of an allergic reaction. It is important to inform the healthcare provider about any known allergies or previous adverse reactions to contrast agents.

It is crucial to discuss your medical history, current health status, and any concerns with your healthcare provider before undergoing an MRI angiography renal scan. They will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of the procedure and address any potential contraindications or precautions specific to your case.


In conclusion, MRI angiography renal scan is a valuable imaging procedure used to assess the blood vessels of the kidneys. It provides detailed images of the renal arteries and veins, aiding in the diagnosis and evaluation of various renal vascular conditions. This non-invasive and radiation-free technique allows healthcare professionals to identify renal artery stenosis, renal vein thrombosis, renal vascular malformations, and assist in preoperative planning for kidney transplantation. While the procedure is generally safe, it is important to consider contraindications such as pregnancy, metallic implants, severe claustrophobia, renal impairment, and allergies to contrast agents. By discussing individual circumstances with a healthcare provider, patients can determine the suitability of an MRI angiography renal scan and receive optimal care for their renal health.