Thyroid Scan is a nuclear medicine imaging which quantifies hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and structure abnormalities. The radioactive iodine update test (RAIU) is also known as a thyroid uptake. The thyroid scan and thyroid uptake provide information about the structure and function of the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in the neck which controls metabolism. The patient is given a small radioactive iodine pill to swallow for the test.
About the Procedure
These scans involve injecting, swallowing or inhaling very small amounts of radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals. The radiopharmaceutical selected for your scan is specific to the organ being imaged. As the radiopharmaceutical travels to the area being examined, a gamma camera detects the photons released by this radioactive material and maps their distribution. Nuclear medicine cameras are connected to computers that process the information to produce pictures for the Radiologist to interpret. Within a few days, all traces of the radiopharmaceutical disappear from the body. These procedures are safe and painless. There are no common side effects in nuclear medicine. Therefore, you should not feel dizzy, nauseous, sleepy or hot.
Most nuclear medicine exams require simple preparation. Occasionally, you will be asked to discontinue certain medications for a specific length of time prior to your exam. Your physician will inform you of these requirements in advance of your exam. If you have any questions, the nuclear medicine staff will be happy to help you. Since imaging rooms can be chilly, please dress in warm, comfortable clothing without metal buttons, snaps or buckles. We will ask you to remove metal objects such as belt buckles, coins and keys.
Please arrive at the hospital or clinic 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. A technologist will discuss your procedure with you, answer your questions and obtain other needed information. Please bring a list of your medications, x-rays, CT scans or other pertinent test results with you. If you need to cancel your nuclear medicine exam, please notify your hospital or clinic at least 24 hours in advance since the radioactive material is ordered specifically for you on the day of your exam and cannot be stored for future use.
During the Procedure
In the nuclear medicine room, you will sit in a chair or lie on a table where a technologist will administer the radiopharmaceutical – most often by injection into an arm vein. Depending upon your procedure, images may be taken by the gamma camera during the injection. For most exams, you must wait for the radioactive material to be distributed to the organ being imaged. Waiting times vary from a few minutes to several hours. If waiting time permits, you may walk around or even leave the imaging center.
Following the required waiting time, you will lie on an imaging table with the camera above and/or below you. The camera may move very slowly around you or remain stationary, depending upon your particular exam. You will be able to speak to the technologist at any time. You may be asked to remain perfectly still for several minutes at a time while the image is recorded.
After the Procedure
After your exam, you will be asked to wait 10-15 minutes while the scans are finalized and shown to the Radiologist. As soon as the scans have been reviewed for clarity, you may go home. If additional scans are needed, they will be taken at this time. Unless advised otherwise by your physician, you may resume your normal diet and activities immediately.
A board-certified radiologist from CRL Imaging will interpret the scan and relay the findings to the referring physician, who will in turn inform you of the results. All written reports will be available to the referring physician within 24 hours. Any time immediate attention is needed; the referring physician will be contacted the day of the exam.