Nuclear Medicine Unit
Ninewells Hospital & Medical School

Information for Patients

Parathyroid Scan 

What is a parathyroid scan?

A parathyroid scan is used to examine how your parathyroid glands are working.  It can show conditions that are not seen using other tests or scans.

In particular, it can detect parathyroid glands that are working too hard.  It can also identify parathyroid tissue away from its normal location in the neck.

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larger image of a
Parathyroid scan

Before the scan.

If you are on a thyroid hormone replacement, your hospital consultant may ask you to stop taking it before the scan.  It is normal to stop thyroxine 3-4 weeks before and T3 about 1 week before

What is involved?

This test is in two parts performed on the same day.

On your first visit, we will give you an injection in your arm.  The injection will contain a small amount of radioactive tracer.

We will then ask you to wait just under 2 hours for the chemical to be taken up.  During this time you are free to stay in or to leave the hospital.

On the second visit, we will give you a second injection containing a different tracer.

You will then lie down on a bed.  We will then take some pictures with a gamma camera.  For some of the pictures we will place a cone attachment onto the camera.  We will place the narrow end of the cone against your neck.

The second visit will take about 1 hour.

No undressing is required and you may eat normally beforehand.

What are the parathyroid glands?

The parathyroid glands help to regulate the level of calcium and phosphorous in the blood.

There are usually four of them, found in the neck. They are usually 1 cm long, though may get larger if they are working harder than they should.

About Nuclear Medicine

To see general information about Nuclear Medicine scans, including pictures of a gamma camera, press the button below.

Links to other pages

General Information
about Nuclear Medicine

Endocrine Entry

Parathyroid gland


NHS Tayside; 2006; version 1.0

Disclaimer; no liability whatsoever is accepted for information given and all such information, especially with regard to drug usage (UK version provided), must be checked with a person’s health provider.

The procedures described above are those followed by the Nuclear Medicine Unit at Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, Dundee, United Kingdom.  Practice elsewhere may be different.  The unit serves patients from Tayside and North Fife.  Patients from elsewhere should refer to their local clinicians for advice.