MRI, What to Expect

Before Arriving for Your Exam

To make registration quicker and easier, we encourage you to take advantage of our online system, where you will complete the MRI Screening Questionnaire and MRI and Pregnancy form (if applicable).

If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on your back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. When scheduling your appointment, please make the Intermountain Medical Imaging Team aware of any concerns or issues you might have, so we can ensure that you have everything you need to comfortably, successfully complete your MRI exam.

While we don’t anticipate a long wait, we do want to make any waiting time as pleasant as possible. Please consider bringing a magazine, book or music with headphones to help you pass the time.

Depending on the MRI examination to be performed, you may be given specific instructions around eating, drinking and taking medications before your procedure. Please follow those instructions carefully to prevent rescheduling of your procedure. To read more about the requirements for your particular exam, please click here. If you have any questions about what you can and cannot eat or drink before your MRI, please call us at (208) 954-8100.

Please leave all jewelry and valuables at home.

After Arrival

If you have not already done so online, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire to determine if an MRI is safe for you. You will also be interviewed by an MRI technologist to ensure that you understand the questions on the form. Even if you have previously undergone an MRI procedure at one of our locations or elsewhere, for safety reasons, we must still ask you to complete a screening form.

Please inform the technologist, radiology nurse and or radiologist of any allergies you may have, or if you are pregnant or nursing.

If your MRI procedure requires contrast agents (IV and oral drugs, materials and soft gels that improve image quality), you will be asked questions to verify that those agents are safe for you.


The powerful magnetic field of the MRI scanner can attract certain metallic objects, causing them to move suddenly and forcefully towards the center of the MR system, posing a serious risk to the patient and anyone else in the room. For this reason, it is critical that you follow screening procedures to prevent the presence of metallic objects—both inside and outside the body—during your MRI.

It is vital that you remove metallic objects in advance of your MRI exam, including watches, jewelry, and even items of clothing that have metallic threads or fasteners. You will receive a pair of scrubs to wear during your examination. Even some cosmetics contain small amounts of metals, so it is best not to wear make-up.

Items that must be removed before entering the MR system room include:

  • Purse, wallet, money clip, credit cards, cards with magnetic strips
  • Electronic devices such as cellular phones and tablets
  • Hearing aids
  • Metal jewelry, body piercings, watches
  • Pens, paper clips, keys, coins
  • Any article of clothing that has a metal zipper, buttons, snaps, hooks, underwires or metal threads
  • Shoes, belt buckles, safety pins

Patients with various implants (usually metallic), body piercings or other metal in their bodies (including some tattoos) may encounter difficulty with an MRI. It is critical that your MRI technologist or radiologist is made aware of any such potential issues before your examination. In some cases, an MRI may need to be canceled or rescheduled because of concerns related to a metallic implant or device.

Examples of items that may create a health hazard or other problem during an MRI exam include:

  • Pacemaker
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Neurostimulator
  • Aneurysm clip
  • Metal implant
  • Implanted drug infusion device
  • Foreign metal objects, especially if in or near the eye
  • Shrapnel or bullet wounds
  • Permanent cosmetics or tattoos
  • Dentures/teeth with magnetic keepers
  • Other implants that involve magnets
  • Medication patch (i.e., transdermal patch) that contains metal foil

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Please check with your MRI technologist or radiologist if you have any questions or concerns about any implanted object or health condition that could impact the procedure, particularly if you have undergone surgery involving the brain, ear, eye, heart or blood vessels.

Contrast Agents

Many MRI examinations make use of contrast agents to improve image quality. Some procedures utilize a soft gel that may be placed in certain areas of the body. Others may be injected intravenously or taken orally. Your radiologist will determine if you may benefit from using contrast with your MRI exam. Before receiving any contrast agents, please tell your MRI technologist or radiologist if you have:

  • Have undergone MRI procedures with contrast agents in the past
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • Have had kidney problems, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Have experienced an allergic reaction to a contrast agent in the past

Click here learn more about contrast agents and if your particular examination will require them, visit:

Our Procedures
Patients’ Guide to MRI
Medication Guide for Eovist
Medication Guide for Dotarem
Medication Guide: Spanish

During the Exam

An MRI machine consists of a large, cylinder-shaped tube with a moveable scanning table that slides into the center of the machine. Depending on your exam, your MRI technician will advise you on how to lie and position your body on the table.

Coils (special devices to improve image quality) may be placed on or around the area of your body being scanned.

At this point, any necessary contrast materials will be administered either intravenously, orally, or through physical placement on or in the body.

The scanning table will slide your entire body (or body part in some cases) into the magnet. During the scan, you will not feel anything but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds. Headphones will be provided to help mask the noise and allow you to listen to music. As your images are taken, you must hold very still and at times may be asked to hold your breath.

The technologist will able to see and hear you at all times during the exam.

The MRI exam may take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the specifics that your referring physician has ordered. For more information about your particular MRI exam and how long it will take, visit our procedure page.

After Your Exam

Once your exam is complete, there will be no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat, drink, drive and resume your activities as usual. Your images will be examined by a radiologist and their report sent to your healthcare provider within 24-48 hours of your examination. Your healthcare provider will review the results with you.

For more information on your particular MRI exam, please visit our procedure page.

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