For your convenience, we have two MRI scanners that offer the latest in high-field technology (a GE Optima 450W 1.5 Tesla as well as a GE Signa HDx 3.0 Tesla in Anchorage).  The American College of Radiology accredits all our scanners, giving you peace of mind that you are receiving the best study possible.

What is an MRI Scan?

An MRI scanner is basically a large magnet, super-cooled, that utilizes radio waves and computers to create digital images on a screen. There is a horizontal tube running through the magnet from front to back (open at both ends). You lie on your back, and slide into the bore on a special table. Whether or not you go in head first or feet first, as well as how far in the magnet you will go, is determined by the type of exam to be performed.

MRA Brain Image Circle of Willis
magnetic resonance angiography

This is an axial MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) showing the Circle of Willis in the brain.

Axial Slice MRI Brain Image
magnetic resonance imaging

This is an axial MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) cross-sectional image of the brain.

What Happens During an MRI Scan?

Having an MRI scan is quite simple. Depending on the area being scanned, you may be asked to put on a hospital gown. If it is needed, you may also be injected with a special type of MRI dye that enhances the image of the area being examined.

With the assistance of an MRI technologist, you will be positioned on a padded table. The table will then move smoothly into the magnet opening. During the scan you will hear a variety of loud noises as the images are acquired (earplugs are required). The intercom system allows you to converse with the technologist who will let you know how the scan is progressing.

Most exams are completed within 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of study performed. You are welcome to have an adult family member or friend stay with you during the scan.

Who Can Have an MRI Scan?

Most people are great candidates for having an MRI examination. If you have a pacemaker or other electrical device implanted in your body, please notify your clinician who can help determine if an MRI examination is appropriate.

Additionally, if you have metallic fragments or other metallic implants in your body, an MRI scan may not be the best examination for you. Other possible concerns include any special care needs and claustrophobia.

Discussing these with your clinician ahead of time can allow us to accommodate your needs, prescribe anti-anxiety medications, and perform other preemptive tasks that should help your examination go smoothly.

MRI Frequently Asked Questions

For a full list of questions frequently asked by our MRI exam patients, and to hear an MRI in action, visit our full MRI-FAQ page. 

Prepare for Your MRI Scan

General Instructions for All MRI Patients

You will be asked to remove all metal from your person (i.e. earrings, watches, bobby pins, etc.) and credit cards. Lockers are provided. You will be instructed to change into a provided pair of pants and gown.

Diet Instructions for Special Exams

For special MRI exams like MRCP, MRI Enterography and MRI of the liver, you should not have anything to drink (including water) or eat four (4) hours prior to the exam.

Are you having an MRI that uses contrast enhancement?

Patients who will be getting an MRI that includes an intravenous injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium may need to have a recent BUN/Creatinine test available for clinical review. Your provider may be asked to order this lab test for you, so that the results are available before your actual MRI scan. The test results can be available in about an hour if performed at a nearby Providence Laboratory.

Who needs to be screened?

Patients with a history of:

  1. Renal disease (including solitary kidney, renal transplant, renal tumor)
  2. Age >60
  3. History of Hypertension
  4. History of Diabetes
  5. History of severe hepatic disease/liver transplant/pending liver transplant.
  6. In addition, any patient who has a history of GFR that is under 40 (within the last 60 days) must have a GFR within 24 hours of the contrasted exam.


Please contact an MRI scheduler at (907) 212-3156, or toll-free at (888) 458-3151. If necessary, we can connect you with a technologist to answer any concerns you may have.

MRI Screening Form

Please download, print, and fill out our MRI Screening Form before your appointment, and bring it with you to give to the technologist. This is the complete list of screening questions asked before you enter the scan room.

MRI Preparation Screening Form
MRI Preparation Screening Form
210.1 KiB

Your MRI Results

A PIC radiologist will review your MRI images, compare them to previous pertinent films you may have had, and interpret what s/he sees. The radiologist will then dictate a report, which will be transcribed and sent to the clinician who ordered your exam. Please contact your clinician for the results of your MRI test. Some clinicians may want to see a CD of the images as well as the written results, so please let your technologist know before your scan begins.

MRI Breast Image

MRI of the Breast

MRI of the breast is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but rather is a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities.

MRI is used to:

  • Evaluate abnormalities detected by mammography.
  • Identify early breast cancer not detected through other means, especially in women at high risk for breast cancer who have been evaluated by a genetic counselor – see “Screening Breast MRI” below
  • Determine the integrity of breast implants.
  • Assess multiple tumor locations.
  • Look for multiple tumors prior to breast conservation surgery.
  • Determine how much cancer has spread beyond the surgical site after a breast biopsy or lumpectomy.
  • Provide additional information on a diseased breast to make treatment decisions.

By comparing breast images taken before and after contrast material injection, an MRI exam can determine:

  • If there are breast abnormalities.
  • Whether an abnormality looks benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
  • The size and location of any abnormality that looks malignant.
  • The presence of enlarged lymph nodes.

MRI of the breast is not appropriate for all women. If you have questions, please contact the PIC nurse at 212-3607.

Screening Breast MRI

All breast MRI requests are reviewed by the radiologist prior to scheduling.  Here is what they look for when assessing a request for screening breast MRI:

  1. Lifetime risk of 20% or greater.*
  2. Recent mammogram and other breast studies as indicated
  3. Hormone use – all exogenous estrogen must be stopped for at least 3 months
  4. Menstrual cycle – MRI scan is performed on day 7-14
  5. Any concerns should receive a complete work-up prior to considering MRI

* Screening MRI is recommended for patients with a lifetime risk of 20% or greater.  Risk must be quantified using a breast cancer risk assessment tool.  Patients referred for high-risk screening MRI are asked to visit with a genetic counselor for a risk assessment. Maggie Miller is the genetic counselor at the Providence Cancer Center.  There is no charge for her consultation.  Maggie will provide a written summary of cancer risk and recommendations.  This can be used if proof of medical necessity is needed.  The contact phone number for Maggie Miller is 212-6874.

Our MRI team is fully certified and experienced with the varied needs of our patients, including those who may struggle with claustrophobia. With a staff of 15 radiologists with more than 120 years combined experience reading imaging studies, you can rest assured that you’re getting the best interpretation possible.

We're ACR Accredited