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Thyroid imaging: nuclear medicine techniques 

Thyroid imaging: nuclear medicine techniques
Thyroid imaging: nuclear medicine techniques

I. Ross McDougall

and Andrei Iagaru

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date: 26 May 2022

Thyroid imaging with radio-isotopes of iodine provides functional and quantitative information. Images, scans, or scintiscans are the terms used for the pictures that are obtained. In general, a radionuclide or radiopharmaceutical is administered orally or intravenously and images of the distribution of the radioactive tracer are obtained after specific times using a gamma camera. Some clinicians employ a rectilinear scanner rather than a gamma camera to produce the images, but this should not be considered state of the art. Scintiscans do not have the resolution of ultrasonography, CT, or MRI, but they provide reasonable anatomical information as well as functional information. A numerical uptake measurement of how much of the tracer has been trapped can be obtained at the same time as the scintiscan to provide complementary quantitative information. Imaging with radio-iodine is of great value in the diagnosis and management of patients with thyrotoxicosis and differentiated thyroid cancer. It is of less value in thyroid nodules, hypothyroidism, simple goitre, and undifferentiated thyroid cancer. The chapter starts with a discussion of the radioactive tracers and the methods for scanning. Then the appearance of a normal scan followed by findings in patients with thyrotoxicosis, simple goitre, nodular goitre, and congenital defects are described. In these situations the scintiscan evaluates the region of the thyroid. Finally, the role of nuclear medicine imaging in patients with cancer of the thyroid is presented separately since the imaging is different in that it usually evaluates the whole body.

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