How to perform a sestamibi parathyroid scan?

April 1, 2010

A sestamibi parathyroid scan is a nuclear medical procedure. This test is conducted to detect hyperparathyroidism, or parathyroid adenoma. A sestamibi scan can also be used to detect early stages of breast cancer.

Sestamibi is a protein, labeled with radio-pharmaceutical technetium-99. It is a safe and mild radioactive agent, which is injected into a patient's veins. If the patient suffers from a parathyroid disease, the radioactive particles are absorbed by the parathyroid gland, which will be overactive.

The sestamibi parathyroid scan will display only the gland with the parathyroid tumor, not the normal parathyroid glands. When the patient's neck is placed under an imaging machine, the overactive gland will be shown in an accurate picture, along with which part of the neck it is situated in. If performed correctly, these tests are quite accurate. This test is a non-invasive one, which requires the use of two radiopharmaceuticals, in order to obtain images of the areas of the parathyroid gland, which are very active. There are two ways of conducting the test - an immediate scan and a delayed scan. If the scan has to be conducted immediately, the patient will need to lie down on the imaging table, with the neck and head immobilized and extended. The first shot of the radiopharmaceutical is injected into the patient. After about twenty minutes or so, a camera is placed above the patient, for imaging. The patient has to remain still, as the images are being taken. Each image should take about five minutes. Then, the second radiopharmaceutical is injected into the patient, while more images are collected for another twenty minutes or so. The entire test should take about an hour. Another way to conduct this test is by performing a delayed parathyroid scan, where the patient has to swallow some capsules that contain the first radiopharmaceutical. The patient then needs to return after four hours, to take the initial images. Then the second radiopharmaceutical is injected into the patient and some more images are taken for about twenty minutes. This entire procedure takes about four and a half hours. These tests do not require any special preparation, since fasting or maintaining a particular diet are not necessary. During the scan, no metal jewelry should be worn around the neck. However, it is advisable for the patient to wear clothing that is comfortable. There is no aftercare required either, as the patient shouldn't experience any harmful aftereffects of the test. Normal activities can be resumed immediately

Submitted by N S on April 1, 2010 at 06:09

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