Parathyroid Scan

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Nuclear Medicine utilizes a small amount of radioisotope combined with a pharmaceutical that is targeted to go to a specific organ. The radiopharmaceutical can be injected, inhaled or swallowed and are absorbed by specific cells within your body. Nuclear Medicine exams differ for other radiological exams in that they provide both functional and structural information. The exams are very sensitive and can detect disease at its earliest stage. The exams are safe, relatively painless and the radiation exposure is similar to that of other diagnostic X-Ray exams.

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • Certain thyroid medications need to be stopped prior to exam, please consult with your physician or our scheduling department before scheduling
  • The exam consists of 3 components spread throughout the day. Generally you will have appointments at 8:15am, 12:15pm and 2:00pm
  • You may have the exam even if you are allergic to iodinated contrast dyes



What Will Happen During the Exam?

During the first portion of the exam the technologist will ask about any thyroid medications and prior head or neck surgery. The technologist will then have you swallow three radioactive iodine pills that will allow us to image your thyroid gland. You will be instructed to return 3 to 4 hours later. At this time the technologist will inject a radiopharmaceutical into a vein in your arm. This radiopharmacentical will need to circulate for 20 minutes. Four images of your neck will then be taken using a nuclear medicine camera. The scan takes about 20 minutes.The camera does not emit any radiation, but rather detects the radiation emitted from the radiopharmaceutical that was injected or swallowed. The camera is open so you are not completely surrounded and the technologist may stay in the scan room with you. You will be asked to hold still but you do not need to hold your breath.

You will be asked to return about 1 hour later for an additional set of pictures. This second set of pictures increases the sensitivity of the exam.

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How Should I Prepare?


Please wear comfortable clothing with an open neck and refrain from wearing necklaces


Certain thyroid medications will need to be stopped prior to scheduling the procedure. Please consult with our scheduling department or your physician

Food and Drink

You may eat and drink before and during the exam

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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of Parathyroid Scan:

  • The parathyroid exam is a non invasive sensitive exam for determining an overactive parathyroid gland

Risks you should be aware of:

  • Occasionally the injected radiopharmaceutical can cause a metallic taste, this is transient and is readily relieved by drinking a glass of water
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Where Can I Get This Exam?

Parathyroid scan is performed at our following locations:

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