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Parathyroid Scintigraphy


Parathyroid scintigraphy is a test used to look at parathyroid glands and tissues in your neck. The parathyroid glands maintain calcium and phosphate levels in your body. Sometimes the parathyroid glands are overactive. The test may show an adenoma (non-cancerous tumor) that is preventing the parathyroid glands from working properly. Parathyroid scintigraphy helps healthcare providers diagnose your condition and plan your treatment.

Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands


The week before the test:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for the test, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the test.
  • Contrast liquid may be used during the test to help your parathyroid glands show up better in the pictures. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • If you are a woman, tell your healthcare provider if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • Healthcare providers will take blood samples to test your calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop eating or drinking before this test.

The day of the test:

  • Take only the medicines your healthcare provider told you to take.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal piece of paper (informed consent). It gives your healthcare provider permission to do the test. It also explains the problems that may happen with the test, and your treatment choices. Be sure all of your questions have been answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

Parathyroid scintigraphy can take 3 hours or more as the radioactive medicine moves through your body. The test is done as a series of pictures. You will need to stay still while the pictures are taken.

  • An IV will be put in a vein. You will be given radioactive medicine through the IV. The medicine may also be given as a pill. The medicine helps the parathyroid glands show up better in the pictures.
  • You may receive 2 kinds of radioactive medicines. Expect the test to take more time if 2 medicines are used.
  • Pictures of your neck and chest are taken with each dose of radioactive medicine.

After the test:

  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquids than usual. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids will help flush the radioactive medicine out of your body.
  • You may not be able to breastfeed after this test. Ask healthcare providers how long you must stop breastfeeding.


  • You cannot make it to your test.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or the test.


The radiopharmaceutical used during parathyroid scintigraphy contains radiation. Radiation increases the risk of miscarriage and can affect the development of an unborn baby. The results of your test may not be clear. This can happen when the radiopharmaceutical does not show up in the abnormal tissue. The number and location of the abnormal glands or thyroid problems may also cause unclear results. You may need more tests to help diagnose or treat your parathyroid condition.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.