Thyroid Uptake

Nuclear Medicine is a branch of diagnostic imaging that maps the function of many organs and body parts including the thyroid glands.

The thyroid uptake scan uses a gamma camera and small amounts of radioactive tracer injected intravenously, to produce images and measure the function of the thyroid gland. The images show the size, shape and function of the gland, and any nodules or irregularities. It is often used in conjunction with ultrasound.

  • Before your scan

    What to bring

    • Your referral form
    • Any relevant previous imaging
    • Your Medicare card and any concession cards


    • A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.
    • If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
    • Some medications can interfere with the test, and your referring doctor may ask you to stop taking these before the scan. These include thyroid medication, contrast dye used in CT (Computed Tomography) scans, and some heart medication.
  • During your scan

    When you attend your appointment at Apex Radiology you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc, then change into an examination gown.

    After explaining the scanning procedure to you the technologist will inject a radioactive tracer into an arm vein then, after a 15 minute wait, position the gamma camera over your neck. You may breathe normally but must try not move. This stage of the examination takes about 20 minutes.

    The gamma camera is a large, often square radiation detector which sits close to the area being examined. It also rotates around the body while acquiring images (SPECT). You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scan.

    The images may be combined with a low dose CT scan performed at the same time on the same scanner. The combination of SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information obtained, and adds only a few minutes to the duration of the procedure. Please allow up to one hour for this examination.

  • Risks and side effects

    Nuclear medicine examinations are considered very safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations. Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks.

    At Apex Radiology you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.

    If you are worried or concerned about having a Nuclear Medicine study you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination. If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination.

    For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:

  • Who will perform and report my examination?

    At Apex Radiology your stress test procedure will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist who has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and is accredited by the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA).

    Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported by our Nuclear Medicine credentialed radiologist or Nuclear Medicine physician (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of Nuclear Medicine studies).

  • After your scan

    The radioactive tracer will decay over time and the body will eliminate any residue through the kidneys and bowel and you are free to resume normal activities. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.

  • How do I receive my results?

    If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Apex Radiology will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.

    Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.

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