A practical guide to magnetic resonance vascular imaging: techniques and applications

Ann Vasc Surg. 2014 May;28(4):1052-61. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Feb 18.


Magnetic resonance angiography is a technique used to image both central and peripheral arteries using contrast and noncontrast techniques. These techniques are similar in that a bright signal, which appears white within blood vessels, is generated and the background tissues, veins, and stationary tissues are dark. This allows for assessment of anatomy and vascular disease. Extracellular gadolinium-based contrast agents allow for excellent visualization of both central and peripheral arteries. Acquiring images during first pass is required for high-contrast images within arteries, thereby limiting contamination with contrast enhancement of veins and soft tissue. Contrast-enhanced techniques using time-resolved angiography and blood pool contrast agents minimize this temporal limitation. Noncontrast techniques eliminate the uncommon but potentially fatal complications associated with gadolinium contrast agents, such as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. These techniques including phase contrast and time-of-flight sequences have inferior contrast resolution compared with contrast-enhanced techniques and are susceptible to artifacts, which can limit interpretation. The advantage, however, is the ability to assess vascular disease in patients with severe renal failure without the added risks of gadolinium contrast media. The aim of this review is to outline the different techniques available for imaging both the arterial and venous systems, their advantages and disadvantages, and the indications in vascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography* / adverse effects
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography* / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vascular Diseases / diagnosis*


  • Contrast Media