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Radiology/CT angiography vs MRA?


I am in my fifties and I have brachial plexus neuritis (BPN).  The MRI in April showed that the disk between C5-C6 is impinging on the spinal cord.  The pain is a bit better than it was when it started.  I am still regularly feeling dizzy though.  Some days it is 3-4 times per day, sometimes it is almost constant.  It is not vertigo.  My blood pressure is fine.  I had that when the BPN started.  Now it is what the doctor would call orthostatic hyptension.  Anyway, the doctor is concerned that:  one of the vertebral arteries may be distorted by movement of one or more of the vertebrae or disks, or stenosis.  He ordered a CT angiogram.  I am concerned about the large dose of x-rays that I would receive from a CT scan.  My question is whether an MRA would be as sensitive as a CT angio?  Thanks for your help!

Hello, Dave.

Yes, I believe a Carotid MRA would be as sensitive as a CT angio, but I am only the photographer. My expertise is in performing the exam, not deciding which one to perform.

Did you have a pacemaker put in since your last MRI? That would be one reason that your doctor ordered a CT instead of an MRI.

If nothing has changed since your last MRI, I'd recommend you ask your doctor whether an MRA would give him/her the same results as a CTA. If so, ask your doctor to change the order.

There is no ionizing radiation exposure involved with MRI and MR requires much less contrast material than CT.

Hope this helps,


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Delia White


Please do not ask me to diagnose or interpret images. I am not qualified to do so. I will reject all questions asking for my interpretation of images. I am the photographer, not the physician. I cannot "read" x-rays. Please consult a physician for that information. I can tell you what to expect during most MRI, CT and X-ray procedures.


I now have more than 30 years experience in diagnostic imaging. My specialty is MRI. I am also very familiar with CT and the way we used to take x-rays (everything's digital now)!

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Radiologic Technology and am registered as an X-ray, CT and MRI Technologist.

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