The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Thyroid Scan
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What is the test?

 

  • There are two types of thyroid nuclear medicine tests. Both assess the health of your thyroid, a gland in your neck that controls metabolism. A thyroid scan produces a picture of the gland to help evaluate any lumps or inflammation, or to investigate the cause of an overactive thyroid. A radioactive iodine uptake test is performed to see if your thyroid is functioning normally and to determine why thyroid hormone levels may be elevated. For both types of test, a small amount of a weakly radioactive substance, known as a radionuclide, is either injected into a vein or given to you as a pill
  • A thyroid scan is usually ordered when a physical examination or laboratory finding suggests that the thyroid is enlarged. If laboratory tests show an overactive thyroid, a radioactive iodine uptake test may be ordered at the same time.
  • a radioactive iodine uptake test measures the amount of radioactivity in your thyroid after you've been given a relatively small dose of radioactive iodine in pill form.Your thyroid gland absorbs iodine and uses it to make hormones. Therefore, the amount of radioactive iodine detected in your thyroid gland corresponds with the amount of hormone your thyroid is producing.


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