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Nuclear Medicine

Thyroid Scans 

What is a Nuclear Medicine Thyroid Scan?

A thyroid scan is used to evaluate the health of your thyroid, a gland in your neck that controls metabolism. A thyroid scan produces a picture of the gland to help evaluate any inflammation, or to investigate the cause of an overactive or underactive thyroid. A radioactive iodine uptake test is performed to determine if your thyroid is functioning normally and to determine why thyroid hormone levels may be elevated. A small amount of a radioactive substance, known as a radionuclide or radiotracer, is given to you as a pill.

How do I Prepare for this Test?  

-Patients should not take thyroid medication prior to appointment as directed.

-No seafood 1 week prior to the exam.

-No iodinated IV contrast media (x-ray dye) 8 weeks prior to the exam.

What to Expect During the Thyroid Scan?

The technologist will administer a radioactive iodine pill which you will take and be asked to return in 24 hours. 

When you return, you will be asked to lie on the exam table where the technologist will position a detector, a camera specially designed to take several images of the thyroid near your neck. This portion of the test usually takes about half an hour.

An uptake test takes only several minutes and is performed while you are sitting up. Using a device that resembles a Geiger counter, the technologist places a probe several inches in front of your neck, where the thyroid gland is located, and measures the percentage of radioactivity that is retained by the thyroid gland. 

Our licensed Nuclear Medicine technologists will talk to you in detail about what you can expect before, during and after the procedure and answer any questions you may have.

Because patient care is our top priority, we employ equipment and quality control as well as radiopharmaceutical quality assurance to insure that we are producing the highest image quality for both interpretation and diagnosis.

Risks of the Test

Be sure to notify the technologist if there is any chance you may be pregnant.  Radionuclides are unlikely to cause side effects or allergic reactions for most patients.

Following the Test

There are no restrictions following the test.  You may return to your regular activity after the scan is complete.

Results of the Test

Your ordering physician will receive the results in 24-48 hours.  It is important to discuss the results of your scan with your ordering physician.