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.
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.
^ This is an axial MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) showing the Circle of Willis in the brain.
^ This is an axial MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) cross-sectional image of the brain.
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.
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.
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. It’s helpful if your clothing is comfortable (i.e. sweats) and doesn’t include metal buttons, snaps or zippers.
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:
- Renal disease (including solitary kidney, renal transplant, renal tumor)
- Age >60
- History of Hypertension
- History of Diabetes
- History of severe hepatic disease/liver transplant/pending liver transplant.
- 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) 212-3146, or toll-free at (888) 458-3151. If necessary, we can connect you with a technologist to answer any concerns you may have.
Want to save some time?
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.
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 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:
- Lifetime risk of 20% or greater.*
- Recent mammogram and other breast studies as indicated
- Hormone use – all exogenous estrogen must be stopped for at least 3 months
- Menstrual cycle – MRI scan is performed on day 7-14
- 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 theProvidenceCancerCenter. 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.
Here are some of the questions commonly asked by patients who need an MRI or magnetic resonance imaging exam.
Why is this test important?
MRI allows doctors to see images of your internal organs and structures in great detail from many angles. This gives them information more quickly, and in many cases more economically, than past tests and exploratory surgeries.
Will it hurt?
No. Since MRI is “non-invasive”, the exam is painless. However, your doctor may utilize a contrast agent to better visualize a part of your anatomy. If this is the case, you may receive a simple IV injection prior to or during the exam.
Does the machine use X-rays?
No. MRI uses a powerful magnet in conjunction with radiofrequency waves to generate images of your internal organs and structures. There is no ionizing (X-Ray) radiation.
Will I fit?
There are very few patients who cannot be comfortably accommodated for an MRI exam. Our 3.0 Tesla table weight limit is 350 lbs. Our 1.5 Tesla weight limit is 500 lbs. The breast table limit is 430 lbs.
Is the machine open at both ends?
Yes. Both our MR systems are open at both ends.
Will my head stick out?
That will depend on your height and what part of your body is being scanned. The part that is being imaged is in the middle of the magnet. For example, if your ankle is being scanned, your head will be outside of the MR scanner. If it is your head, neck, or chest is scanned, your head will be inside of the scanner.
Will I be claustrophobic?
Most people have no reaction at all. However, if you have had claustrophobic reactions to enclosed spaces before, you should let the technologist know. Even if you are uncomfortable in small spaces, staff members can help you complete the study. We also can administer an anti-anxiety medication (only during certain hours of the day; please let us know in advance, and plan on having a driver).
Will I be alone?
You will be in contact with a technologist at all times. Even when he or she is not in the MRI room, you will be able to talk to him or her by intercom. The technologist is always able to see you through a large patient viewing window. Each patient has access to a call button if immediate attention is needed. In some cases a friend or family member may stay in the scan room with you during your exam. Please consult our MRI schedulers at (907) 212-3146.
Does the machine make a lot of noise?
The magnet makes a knocking sound as images are being taken. In between scans the machine is quiet. Ear plugs will be given to you for your exam and their use will not prevent you from hearing the technologist if he or she speaks to you during the exam.
Do I have to hold still the whole time?
You do have to remain as still as possible during the exam. Moving during the procedure may require repeating parts of the exam so it is best to try to remain as still as possible for the best exam results.
How long will the exam take?
That will depend on what is being studied, but a typical exam lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. You should always allow extra time in case the exam lasts longer than expected.
Will my insurance cover the cost of the exam?
Most insurance plans will reimburse the cost of most MRI exams. To find out if your insurance plan covers the specific MRI exam you will be having, contact your personnel office or insurance agent. Our schedulers are happy to assist with pre-authorization of your exam, and will do this with help from your clinician’s office.
Are there things that will prevent me from being scanned?
If you do have any implanted device, please consult your provider to ensure MRI compatibility. Anyone with surgical pins, shrapnel, plates or other type of metal implants should notify the technologist. Additional time may be required to research implanted devices prior to being scheduled. You will be required to provide a health history when you arrive for your exam explaining any metallic implants you may have. Providence Imaging Center will determine if a particular metal implant is approved to be in an MR environment.
What does an MRI sound like?
Click on the Youtube video below to hear a typical MRI scanner in action.
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.