Parathyroid Scan

This test shows the function and appearance of the parathyroid glands.

A specialised camera is used to take pictures (scans) of your parathyroid glands.

A parathyroid scan is used in nuclear medicine to look at possible parathyroid gland problems (s). The parathyroids are four small hormone glands lying close to or embedded in the back surface of the thyroid gland, in the front of the neck.

The parathyroid scan uses sestamibi, a very safe liquid radioactive material injected into the body and absorbed by the overactive parathyroid but not by healthy parathyroids. The scan picks up an overactive (hyperactive) gland that produces excessive hormone on the pictures or images taken by a gamma camera (a type of machine or scanner used in nuclear medicine).


Take all of your usual medications.

There is no need to fast for any part of (or during) the parathyroid scan.

The test is not usually performed in pregnant women, so please inform us before the test begins if you know that you are (or think you might be) pregnant. If you are breastfeeding, please notify us before your appointment date so we can give you the appropriate instructions.

The total time for the test is between three and five hours.

After the test is explained to you, a technologist will inject a small dose of a radioactive compound called Sestamibi. You will be required to wait 10 minutes, after which time the technologist will take you into the scanning room and will commence your pictures.

The pictures or scan will take up to 30 minutes and will be repeated at two hours and occasionally four hours after the injection.

A Thyroid scan is usually required after the last set of pictures. This requires a similar injection of a radioactive compound followed by pictures on a specialised camera, taking 30 minutes in total. The total time for the test is between three and five hours.

There are no side effects or reactions from the injection. The injection does NOT contain iodine and is safe to give even if you have had a previous allergic reaction to contrast injections. Although you will be required to keep still during the scan, the procedure is entirely painless. There is no need to hold your breath during the test.

In general, the scans and results are sent to your doctor the next working day.

You can drive home after the scan. You will not be drowsy in any way.

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