Thyroid Scintigraphy

Method

 

Supervision of a scintigraphy by a nuclear medicine technician (MTRA)

Supervision of a scintigraphy
by a nuclear medicine technician (MTRA)

Thyroid scintigram

Thyroid scintigram

 

 

 

 

Nuclear medicine in general

In nuclear medical examinations (scintigraphies) low-level radiolabelled medications (radiotracers) are used in the diagnosis of disease.

The radioactive test substance is injected into an arm vein. It is distributed throughout the body by the blood system, and depending upon its composition, accumulates in the target organ. The radiation produced (gamma rays) has low strength but a wide range. This means it can be visualized outside the body as an image or series of images using a special device (gamma camera).

Most scintigraphies cause an exposure to radiation equal to a person’s natural annual exposure. As all nuclear medical procedures involve such exposure – albeit only slight – to radiation, they can only be carried out when the patient is not pregnant.

Thyroid scintigraphy

Thyroid scintigraphy functions help to evaluate the hormonal activity of thyroid tissues, in particular when irregularities or lumps have been identified.

 

Preparation

 

Please note:

After taking larger doses of iodine, e.g. in the context of examinations involving contrast agents in computed tomography or intracardiac catheters, patients should maintain a waiting period of at least six weeks.

Preparation at home

  • Medication to stop taking in the run-up to the scintigraphy:
    • Thyroid hormone tablets containing L-thyroxine: four weeks before the examination
    • Thyroid hormone tablets containing triiodothyronine: ten days before the examination
  • You may continue to take as usual: iodine tablets and medication for the treatment of an overactive thyroid

Please bring with you:

  • Where available, existing examination results (imaging, clinical examinations, surgical or hospital discharge reports, lab test results)
  • If you are taking medication, in particular hormone compounds: the name and dosage of the compound
  • A towel

Procedure

 

Prior to the examination you will be questioned about the medical history of your illness to date and your present symptoms. The doctor will also check whether there is a justifiable indication for the examination, i.e. whether a thyroid scintigraphy is medically useful and necessary.

The low-level radiolabelled medication (radiotracer) will be injected into an arm vein. Recording of the examination data can only take place when the medication has been absorbed into the thyroid gland. As a rule this is approx. 20 minutes after the injection.

During the examination you will be lying comfortably – usually on your back – on the examination table. The recording system (gamma camera) will be positioned over the head/neck region but will not touch you during the process. Please follow instructions exactly, as they are very important for the quality of the image.

The recording time is about 5 minutes. Usually, you will be able to leave the practice immediately after the examination.

A detailed report with the results of the examination will be sent to the doctor who referred you to us. This will usually reach your doctor within ten days; in case of medical necessity, it may also come at short notice on the same or the following day.