Vein scanning is a nuclear scan test that is ordered to detect deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is a condition where blood clots form in the deep veins of the lower legs. If these blood clots travel through the large veins of the body, they can reach the lungs or brain, and cause an obstruction in the flow of blood, causing failure of the organ, and subsequent death.
A palm vein scan helps to detect blood clots that may be newly formed or are in the process of being formed. A duplex scan of extremity veins is usually conducted because the veins in the lower extremities of the body sustain the maximum pressure and are most likely to have blood clots in them.
To conduct the test, a tracer, which is radioactive in nature, is injected into the arm. As soon as the tracer is added to the blood, it begins circulating through the blood vessels. If there is a clot in the veins, the tracer material will begin to accumulate in the area and a picture will be taken of the exact location in the body. This way, the presence of the clot is confirmed and its location identified.
After the injection of the tracer into the blood stream, some time is given to the tracer to begin circulating all over the body. A scan is done ten minutes after the tracer is injected and then another one is done about ninety minutes after the first test. Newly formed clots usually appear as bright spots in the veins.
It is important to inform the doctor in case you are pregnant, before you take this test. If you have recently had a baby and are breast feeding, it is recommended that you use formula to feed your child for the next two to three days. If you have taken a barium test or a bismuth based medicine four to five days prior to the test, inform your doctor. Both barium and bismuth interfere with the test and may give incorrect results.
The test will be administered by a doctor or a nuclear medicine technician. You should remove any pieces of jewelry on your body before taking the test. Since the test is not intrusive, you will not feel any discomfort. The tracer that is injected usually clears from the body within 24 hours through urine or stool. If your results are abnormal, the doctors will then advice the next course of action.