In Nuclear Medicine
Test date______________________ Test time__________________________
This test will be done in the Nuclear Medicine section of Radiology at UW Health – University
Hospital. Enter through the clinic entrance. Go through the lobby to the 2nd floor atrium
elevators. Go up to 3rd floor. Follow the signs to Radiology. Check in at the reception desk.
What is a parathyroid scan?
The parathyroid scan is a test that studies the
thyroid and parathyroid glands. The
purpose of this test is to find out which of
the four 4 parathyroid glands may be
hyperactive before surgery to remove it.
This test is most often done in one of three
ways. Each method takes a different amount
You will have an IV placed in your arm. A
radioactive substance will be put in the IV.
You may be asked to swallow a small
capsule with a radioactive substance. This
will help show the abnormal parathyroid
gland. You will be positioned for pictures
of your chest and neck. Your head will be
tilted back slightly to keep your chin out of
the picture. Your doctor will share the test
results with you.
The three most common ways to image the
parathyroid gland in Nuclear Medicine are
listed here. The scan your doctor ordered is
____ 1. The scan with sestamibi
We inject a small amount of
technetium labeled sestamibi through
the IV. Fifteen minutes after the
injection, we take pictures of the
thyroid and parathyroid glands for 35
minutes. Forty-five minutes later,
another set of pictures is taken for
another 35 minutes. The camera
rotates around you for these pictures
taking the full 35 minutes. The camera
is close to you but does not make
direct contact with you. It may brush
up against your shirts sleeves. This is
the most common scan used.
____ 2. The scan with technetium
We inject a small amount of thallium
through the IV. After the injection, we
take a single picture of the thyroid and
parathyroid glands for about 20
minutes. Then, without moving you or
the camera, we inject another small
amount of a radioactive substance
called technetium. We take another
single picture for about 15 minutes.
The camera does not rotate for these
____ 3. The scan with iodine subtraction
You swallow a small capsule that contains
Iodine. Four (4) hours later, you return to
Radiology. Check in again with the
Reception desk. When you return, we take
a single picture of the thyroid and
parathyroid glands for about 20 minutes.
Then, we inject a small amount of
technetium labeled sestamibi through the
IV. We take the same picture of the
thyroid and parathyroid glands 30 minutes
after the injection. The camera does not
rotate for these pictures. Sometimes, we
get more pictures. For these pictures, the
camera rotates around you.
Our Nuclear Medicine doctor consults
with your doctor about your history and
problems to decide on the best scan for
you. You will then be scheduled for the
How do I prepare for this test?
Please tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
This test should only be done under special
conditions if you are pregnant or breast
feeding. There is nothing else you need to
do to prepare for this test. You do not need
a driver. You may follow your normal diet.
How will I feel after the test?
The test is painless, except for the minor
discomfort of having an IV placed.
What are the risks?
Many people worry when they hear that the
substances used in this test are slightly
radioactive. The amount used in this test is
so small that there should be no side effects
and is not harmful to your kidneys. Again,
it should be noted that this test should only
be done under special conditions if you are
pregnant or breast feeding.
If you have any questions before the test,
UWHC Radiology: Monday-Friday, 800 am
- 4:30 pm, (608) 263-XRAY (9729) or Toll
free 1-800-323-8942; ask for Radiology.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#7010