The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Thyroid Scan
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How do I prepare for the test?

  • If there is any chance that you are pregnant, or if you are breast-feeding, let your doctor know. Radionuclides could harm your nursing baby or a developing fetus, so your doctor will use an alternative method to diagnose the problem, such as ordering additional blood tests or monitoring your symptoms over several weeks to see if they resolve.

    For about a week before a thyroid scan, your doctor may ask you to avoid certain foods and medicines that can interfere with the results, including thyroid hormones and shellfish (which contain iodine). You might have to fast entirely for several hours beforehand if you'll be given a radioactive iodine pill for the test.You might also need to have blood tests that check thyroid function
  • The preparation for a radioactive iodine uptake test is almost the same as for a thyroid scan. However, because you are given radioactive iodine in pill form for an uptake test, you need to wait four to six hours, and possibly as long as a day, before having the scan. (This gives the radioactive iodine time to reach your thyroid.)

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