What is a Parathyroid scan?

Parathyroid glands are small endocrine glands in the neck that produce parathyroid hormone. There are four parathyroid glands, which are usually located behind the thyroid gland and, in rare cases, within the thyroid gland or in the chest. Parathyroid glands control the amount of calcium in the blood and within the bones. A Parathyroid scan is for localization of hyperparathyroidism or overactive parathyroid glands.

How should I prepare for a Parathyroid scan?

There are no special preparation instructions for this scan. Thyroid medications and recent radiographic contrast studies are contraindications of this exam.

How long does the test take?

There are two parts to this test. When you first arrive to the nuclear medicine department the technologist will explain the exam and you will be asked to take two radioactive iodine capsules. There are no side effects to these capsule, they will not make you feel any different. The capsules will be absorbed by your thyroid and will allow the doctor to see how your thyroid is functioning. After you take these capsules you will be allowed to leave the department with a time to return 3-4 hours later. This allows time for your thyroid to absorb the radioactive iodine capsules. When you return to the nuclear medicine department the technologist will calculate how much of the capsules were absorbed by your thyroid by placing a probe over your neck. This takes about five minutes. The technologist will then be giving you an injection, in a vein, of a radioactive isotope that goes to your parathyroid. This injection will not make you feel any different. You will then be asked to remove any metal from your waist up and the technologist will position you on the imaging table. The camera will rotate around you for thirty minutes and at the end a non-diagnostic CT scan will be performed.

How soon will the scan results be available?

A radiologist will interpret the images, write a report, and deliver the results to your doctor via the internal computer system.

It is essential to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant before undergoing this scan because of radiation exposure.

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