Thyroid, Parathyroid and Body Scans

Also known as: thyroid whole body scan, parathyroid scan, sestamibi scan, SPECT, CT fusion, parathyroid 4D-CT scan

What are thyroid and parathyroid body scans?

A variety of different imaging tests and technologies can be used to examine the thyroid or parathyroid glands from outside the body. These can range from CT scans to look for potential abnormalities in the glands, to a thyroid whole body scan to look for residual thyroid tissue after the organ has been surgically removed.

What happens during the test?

The exact nature and length of the body scan will vary based on the nature of the issue with the thyroid or parathyroid glands, or the test recommended. Many require a tracer material to be taken orally or intravenously prior to the test. The test typically involves lying still on a table, which then enters the scanning machine for several minutes or longer in some cases. The total testing time can range from a few hours to a couple of days to perform all needed scans.

Is any special preparation needed?

You may need to stop eating, drinking or taking certain medications prior to the test and remove all metal jewelry immediately beforehand. You may also be given a pill for the tracer material to ingest several hours prior to the test being performed. Follow your health care provider’s instructions closely.

What are the risk factors?

The amount of tracer material introduced into the body prior to thyroid and parathyroid body scans is low, and there are few risks related to these scans. These tests are typically not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Reviewed by: Alejandro Diaz, MD

This page was last updated on: June 14, 2022 01:56 PM

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