Investigating the possibility of magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) to visualize the Adamkiewicz artery of as a preoperative study of thoracic aortic aneurysms. From February 1998 to March 1999, 26 consecutive patients who had aneurysms of the thoracoabdominal or descending aorta underwent preoperative MRA to visualize the Adamkiewicz artery. Mean age was 60.5+/-11.5 years. Fifteen patients had non-dissecting aneurysm and 11 had aortic dissections. Nineteen patients underwent replacement of the aneurysms, four patients underwent endovascular stent-graft repair, and three patients were discharged without treatment of aneurysm. MRA was performed on a 1.5-T system (Magnetom, Siemens) and data acquisition was repeated two times following injection of gadolinium-DTPA. Source images were reconstructed with multiplanar reconstruction and maximum intensity projection. Criteria for the Adamkiewicz artery of were that the artery ascends from the dorsal branch of the intercostal or lumbar artery to the anterior mid-sagital surface of the spinal cord in the early phase. The Adamkiewicz arteries were demonstrated in 18 patients (69%). These arteries were originated from the left intercostal or lumbar arteries in 13 (72.2%) patients and from the right in 5 (27.8%) and from the Th8 branch in three, Th9 in seven, Th10 in two, Th11 in four, and L1 in two. All patients had graft replacement of the aorta using a partial bypass. All intercostal or lumber arteries, which were visualized as the origin of the Adamkiewicz artery, were reattached to the grafts. No spinal cord injury occurred. Preoperative detection the Adamkiewicz artery was possible by MRA and was very useful to reduce the incidence of ischemic injury of the spinal cord during surgery of the thoracoabdominal or descending aorta.