Understanding a Parathyroid Scan

A healthy thyroid and parathyroid glands are important because they control how your body uses energy and affect how you feel daily.

If you suspect you may have symptoms related to a thyroid condition, a parathyroid scan may be the best test for you.

A parathyroid scan is an essential radiology imaging tool that provides detailed information about parathyroid gland function and health.

At Valley Radiology, we rely on this imaging technique to understand and diagnose various thyroid-related conditions for effective treatment planning.

What Is a Parathyroid Scan?

A parathyroid scan is a painless nuclear medicine test that checks the four small glands near your thyroid in your neck. 

The scan finds issues with the parathyroid glands, like tumors or hyperactivity. 

The nuclear medicine (NM) parathyroid scan also helps doctors see precisely where the glands are, their size, and what they're doing so they can plan the proper treatment. 

Sestamibi Parathyroid Scan vs. Parathyroid Scan With SPECT

The sestamibi parathyroid scan and the parathyroid scan with SPECT are both imaging tests used to detect issues and abnormalities in the parathyroid glands. They differ in how they capture images.

The sestamibi parathyroid scan, also known as a MIBI scan, involves injecting a small amount of a radioactive substance called technetium-99m sestamibi into the body through a vein. This substance then collects in the targeted glands. A special camera takes pictures of the glands, showing areas where the substance is located.

The parathyroid scan with SPECT (Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography) uses a similar radioactive substance but includes SPECT technology. The SPECT scan enhances the imaging, providing more precise and comprehensive information about the parathyroid glands for accurate diagnosis.

These images give doctors a better understanding of the gland's activity and location.

How Do I Prepare for a Parathyroid Scan Procedure?

Preparing for a scan is vital for getting the right results. 

Here's what you might need to do to prepare for your appointment

  • Stop taking certain medicines with iodine or thyroid hormones, as they can affect the test.
  • Don't eat or drink certain things for a few hours before the scan.
  • Tell your doctor if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or had recent imaging tests with contrast material.
  • Always follow your doctor’s instructions for the best results during and after care.

How Is a Parathyroid Scan Performed?

During a parathyroid scan, you will be asked to lie down on a table. A small amount of a radioactive substance, called a tracer, will be injected into your vein, usually in your arm. This substance travels through your bloodstream and is absorbed by the parathyroid glands.

After the injection, you'll wait for a certain period, usually around 15-20 minutes to a few hours, to allow the tracer to concentrate in the parathyroid glands. Then, you'll be positioned under a special camera that detects the radioactive substance.

The camera takes images of your neck area. You may need to change positions during the scan to ensure all necessary angles are captured. 

Your doctor analyzes the images to evaluate the parathyroid glands and provides a diagnosis based on the scan results.

How Long Does a Parathyroid Scan Take?

The entire parathyroid scan procedure takes a few hours. You can resume normal activities after the procedure is complete. 

Get a Personalized NM Parathyroid Scan in North Carolina

If your doctor has referred you for a thyroid imaging test:

  • Please consult with your referring physician to determine the specific type of imaging needed and the appropriate facility for performing the test. 
  • Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your thyroid health or the recommended imaging test.

 At Valley Radiology, we care about your thyroid health and overall well-being.