What is it?

When performing scintigraphy or a radionuclide scan, a small amount of a radioactive substance is administered to the patient. We call these substances ‘tracers’. They are only slightly radioactive and have a short half-life (meaning that these substances will not produce radiation for a long time).

Test procedure

For most tests, the tracer is introduced into the bloodstream through a vein, but for some tests it is possible to inhale the tracer or even incorporate it into a meal or drink.

Depending on the organ requiring the test, the spread of the administered tracer in the body or in a specific organ is checked using a specific type of scanner, which is a so-called gamma camera or SPECT camera. This is done immediately after administration or a few hours, or even days, after. This test is termed a scintigraphy or radionuclide scan. In this way, images are produced that provide us with information about the functioning of the examined organs. It is difficult to obtain this information in other ways and it can assist the physician requesting the test in reaching a diagnosis.

Is the test painful, and is it dangerous?

These tests are not burdensome for the patient. Most tests are done by injecting a small amount of tracer in the vein on the inside of the elbow. This is generally well tolerated. As a rule, no allergic reactions occur and the amount of radiation is small, and certainly not higher than with regular radiology tests. However, radiation is avoided in the case of pregnant or breastfeeding women. To avoid any misunderstandings, it is therefore important that the requesting physician as well as the patient always make sure to report any pregnancy or breastfeeding.

The camera system is an open system. You will not be placed inside a tunnel. Most patients with claustrophobia tolerate the examination well. If you are worried about the test, do not hesitate to discuss it with our physician or nurse.

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021