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Thyroid Scan

Thyroid Scans provide information about the structure and function of the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that controls metabolism, a chemical process that regulates the rate at which the body converts food to energy.

Your doctor may recommend a Thyroid Scan to:

  • Determine if the gland is working properly
  • Help diagnose problems with the thyroid gland
  • Detect areas of abnormality (such as lumps, nodules or inflammation)

For a Thyroid Scan, you will be positioned on an examination table. If necessary, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the dose of radiotracer is then injected intravenously, swallowed or inhaled as a gas. When radiotracer is taken by mouth, in either liquid or capsule form, it is typically swallowed up to 24 hours before the scan. The radiotracer given by intravenous injection is usually given 30 minutes prior to the test. When it is time for the imaging to begin, you will lie down on a moveable examination table with your head tipped backward and neck extended. The gamma camera will then take a series of images, capturing images of the thyroid gland from three different angles. When the examination is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist checks the images in case additional images are needed. Occasionally, more images are obtained for clarification or better visualization of certain areas or structures.

The need for additional images does not necessarily mean there was a problem with the exam or that something abnormal was found, and should not be a cause of concern for you. You will not be exposed to more radiation during this process. If you had an intravenous line inserted for the procedure, it will usually be removed unless you are scheduled for an operating room procedure that same day. Actual scanning time for a thyroid scan is 30 minutes or less.

For Physicians

External cameras capture internal images emitted by radiopharmaceuticals to detect and track disease.

Nuclear Medicine Study Forms:
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