Reasons & Preparation For a Radioactive Thyroid Scan

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Radioactive Iodine Thyroid Scan

A radioactive iodine thyroid scan or a normal thyroid scan is done with a radioactive tracer as well as a special camera to check the level of tracer that the thyroid gland absorbs from the blood. This scan is helpful in detecting problems with the thyroid gland. A radioactive thyroid scan using iodine is done to check if there are nay thyroid nodules.

Through a thyroid scan, the doctor can find out the shape, size and location of the thyroid gland as well as the parts of the gland that are under active or overactive. Pictures of the gland are taken from three different angles and the tracer in the test is either technetium or iodine.

A whole-body thyroid scan is often done for people with thyroid cancer and when the cancer has been treated. This scan can be done to find out if the cancer has been arrested or if it has spread to different parts of the body.

Reason Why It is Conducted

A thyroid scan is done to check if there are any nodules present in the gland. The scan also diagnoses the reason behind hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland.  The scan also checks if thyroid cancer has or hasn't spread in other areas than the thyroid gland. A whole-body thyroid scan is generally done to evaluate.

Preparation Required

You must take your medicines regularly and let your physician know about the medicines as well as the doses that you've been taking. Your doctor can tell you if you need to stop or take the medicines, in case some of the medication will interfere with the test results. You must tell your doctor if you have been taking medicines that have iodine such as heart medicine amiodarone, multivitamins, cough syrups, kelp and iodized salt. You can also let your doctor know if you are allergic to any medicines and are allergic to iodine. However, even if you are allergic to iodine, you can have the test because a very small amount is used in the tracer and you may not have any reaction to it.

Let the physician know if you have had any allergy due to eating shellfish or a bee sting. Do mention if you had any blood-thinning medicines. Also mention if you've had done any tests that used radioactive materials or even iodine dye about four weeks before the scan. You should also disclose if you are pregnant or are breast-feeding.