Thyroid Uptake and Scan

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A thyroid uptake and scan procedure is performed to evaluate the function and structure of the thyroid gland. It is a nuclear medicine exam which combines a small amount of radioisotope with a pharmaceutical that is targeted to go to your thyroid. This radiopharmaceutical can be injected, inhaled or swallowed and is absorbed by specific cells within your body. Nuclear medicine exams differ from 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 over 2 consecutive days, each component is about 30 minutes in duration
  • 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 or head and neck surgery. The technologist will then have you swallow a radioactive iodine pill that will allow us to measure thyroid uptake. You will be instructed to return 2 or 4 hours later for the first uptake measurement. At this time the technologist will position a probe over your neck to measure how much of the radioiodine has been absorbed by your thyroid.

You will be asked to return the following day to repeat the uptake measurement and perform the scan portion of the exam. The scan consists of a small injection of a radiopharmaceutical into a vein of your arm. This will allow imaging of your thyroid. Neither the probe nor camera emit any radiation, but rather detect the radiation emitted from the radiopharmaceutical. 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.


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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 Thyroid uptake and scan:

  • A thyroid uptake and scan is a non-invasive test that is sensitive in evaluating both the function and structure of the thyroid gland

Risks you should be aware of:

  • There are no risks associated with thyroid uptake and scan procedures.
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Where Can I Get This Exam?

Thyroid uptake and scan is performed at our following locations:

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