The parathyroid glands are tiny glands located in your neck. They play a significant role in regulating calcium levels in your body. Abnormalities can lead to various health issues. This is where a parathyroid scan comes into the picture, helping doctors to identify and diagnose parathyroid gland problems.
What is a Parathyroid Scan?
A parathyroid scan, also known as a parathyroid scintigraphy, is a medical imaging procedure designed to assess the health and functionality of your parathyroid glands. It’s a non-invasive way to identify abnormalities in these glands, which are essential for maintaining the right balance of calcium in your body.
The Need for a Parathyroid Scan
A parathyroid scan is often recommended when individuals are experiencing symptoms that might suggest parathyroid gland issues. These symptoms can include:
- High Calcium Levels: Elevated calcium levels in the blood, a condition known as hypercalcemia, can be a sign of parathyroid problems.
- Kidney Stones: Recurring kidney stones can be related to parathyroid gland dysfunction, leading to excessive calcium in the urine.
- Bone Problems: Weakening of bones due to calcium loss can be a consequence of parathyroid issues.
- Fatigue and Weakness: Parathyroid disorders can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness.
How Does a Parathyroid Scan Work?
The procedure involves the use of a small amount of radioactive material, usually technetium-99m-sestamibi, which is injected into a vein. This radioactive substance is then taken up by the parathyroid glands. Afterward, a special camera is used to capture images of the parathyroid glands, allowing the medical team to see how well these glands are functioning.
Interpreting the Results
The images obtained during a parathyroid scan help medical professionals determine the location and activity of the parathyroid glands. This information is vital for diagnosing and planning treatment for parathyroid-related issues.
Preparation and Safety
Prior to a parathyroid scan, there are some preparations to consider. Your doctor will provide specific instructions, but in general, you should:
- Inform your doctor about any medications you are taking, as some may need to be adjusted.
- Be prepared to lie still during the scan, which usually takes around 30-60 minutes.
- Be aware that the amount of radiation used is minimal and considered safe for most individuals.
What Happens Next?
Once the scan is complete, your doctor will review the images to assess the condition of your parathyroid glands. If any issues are detected, further diagnostic tests or treatment options may be discussed.
A parathyroid scan is a valuable tool for diagnosing and understanding the health of your parathyroid glands. If you are experiencing symptoms or have risk factors for parathyroid issues, don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare provider. They can guide you through the process, explain the benefits of a parathyroid scan, and help ensure your continued well-being by addressing any parathyroid gland problems promptly.