The parathyroid scan uses a gamma camera and a small amount of radioactive tracer (radiopharmaceutical) injected intravenously to examine abnormalities of the parathyroid glands in the neck. It’s most common use is in diagnosing benign tumours (called adenomas) which cause the parathyroid glands to become overactive. The test is usually done in conjunction with ultrasound.
Before your procedure
What to bring
- Your referral form
- Any relevant previous imaging
- Your Medicare card and any concession cards
A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
During your procedure
What to expect during my procedure
When you attend your appointment at Lake Imaging you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc, then change into an examination gown.
After the technologist has explained the procedure to you, a radioactive tracer will be injected into an arm vein. Imaging starts after a 20 minute wait, and you may breathe normally during the scan, but must try not move. This stage of the imaging takes 20 to 30 minutes, and takes images of the thyroid gland and one or more parathyroid glands revealing any abnormalities.
You will then be asked to leave and resume your normal activities, returning approximately two hours later, allowing time for the excess tracer to clear from the thyroid gland (we will tell you the exact time to return on the day).
The gamma camera is a large square radiation detector which sits close to the area being examined. It also rotates around the body while acquiring images (SPECT). You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scan.
The images may be combined with a low dose CT (Computed Tomography) scan done at the same time on the same scanner. This combination of SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information obtained, and adds only a few minutes to the procedure time.
Please allow up to three hours for the whole Parathyroid imaging procedure.
Risks and side effects
Nuclear medicine examinations are considered very safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.
Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Lake Imaging you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.
If you are worried or concerned about having a Nuclear Medicine study you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination.
If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination.
For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:
Who will perform and report my examination
At Lake Imaging your examination will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist who has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and is accredited by the ANZSNM.
Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported by our Nuclear Medicine credentialed radiologist or Nuclear Medicine physician (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of Nuclear Medicine studies).
After your procedure
What to expect after my procedure
Radiation from the injected isotope diminishes to a very low level by the end of the procedure, and you are free to resume normal activities. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.
How do I receive my results?
If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Lake Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.
Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.