Understanding A Few Types Of MRI

You may understand that MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. However, you may not know that there are many different types of MRIs that can be performed. In other words, magnetic imaging can be used in many different capacities to investigate health issues. If you have a heart problem, then keep reading to understand some of the different types of MRIs that may be performed for diagnostic purposes. 


An MRA is a magnetic resonance angiogram that displays images of the vessels of the heart. The images are created using radio pulses and magnetic fields. During the test, an MRI image is taken of the heart. Afterwards, contrast material is injected into the bloodstream. The most common of these agents include barium-sulfate or iodine. The contrast agent flows through your blood vessels and temporarily blocks x-rays from passing through the vessels. This creates a white image on the imaging that is similar to the way that dense bones look when a simple x-ray image is completed. 

If blood vessels appear white, then this means that blood is passing through them. If the vessels cannot be seen on the imagery, then blood is not flowing properly and they will not show up on the MRA. 

When an MRA is completed, the contrast image is placed over the top of the original magnetic image of the organ. This helps to create a three-dimensional image where the heart and the blood vessels can be examined a bit more closely. 

Functional MRI

A functional MRI or a fMRI is a type of MRI scan that looks at the way that the blood flows through the brain. This type of imaging requires activity to investigate the way that the brain is receiving blood when you complete certain tasks. The image create a map of the brain, and while the images are often used for research purposes, they can be used for diagnostic or clinical purposes as well. 

Like the MRA, the fMRI requires the injection of a contrast medium. The contrast solution flows through the blood vessels of the brain as the area becomes used. In other words, the flow of blood shows the activation of the area of the brain. 

Like the name suggests, the fMRI allows a physician to see how the brain is functioning. This is extremely important in cases where brain surgery must be completed or when a tumor is targeted for treatments. Basically, your doctor needs to pinpoint the exact critical areas of the brain that need to be avoided when surgical tools are used or when radiation devices are set up.