Endocrine Imaging

salivary gland

Salivary gland illustration - Courtesy, University of California, Irvine school of Medicine

Salivary gland scan (Parotid gland imaging)

A salivary gland scan is used to evaluate the function of the salivary glands which include the parotid and submandibular glands, located on both sides of the neck just below the ears and under the jaw.  

Salivary gland scans are used to evaluate patients with persistent symptoms of a dry mouth. They are also utilized to evaluate salivary gland swelling due to either infection, inflammation, abscess or obstruction.


Your technologist will explain the test and answer any questions you may have.  A small amount of a radioactive tracer will be injected into a vein, typically in your arm. Images are then acquired per protocol after the injection to observe the progressive accumulation of the radioactive tracer in the glands.  The entire procedure takes about 1 hour. Your images will be reviewed by a radiologist, and results will be sent to your physician. Your physician will then contact you with the result.



Thyroid uptake & scan

Thyroid scans are used to evaluate the size and shape of the thyroid gland. They can also show if the thyroid gland has nodules and also if the nodules are "hot" or "cold". A thyroid uptake is performed to check the function of the thyroid gland. 

Some of the clinical indications for a thyroid scan include overactive or underactive thyroid gland, thyroid nodules discovered on ultrasound, goiter, unexplained drastic weight loss or weight gain.


Medications that contain iodine interfere with the radioactive tracer used for thyroid scans so you should inform your physician and the technologist performing your procedure of any medications you are taking, including multi vitamins and herbal supplements.


You should tell your imaging facility if you have had a CT scan, surgeries or treatments that use iodinated contrast material within two months of your scheduled procedure. Medications and other substances that contain iodine including kelp, seaweed, daily multivitamins, blood pressure medications (amlodipine) and thyroid medications such as Synthroid should also be stopped, with guidance from your physician.  


Parathyroid Scan

This exam evaluates the parathyroid gland for adenomas. Your doctor may order this exam if your calcium level and/or your parathyroid hormone level is elevated. The technologist will explain the exam when you arrive.  You will receive an injection of a radiopharmaceutical in a vein, typically in your arm. Images will be acquired over the neck as per protocol. Your Technologist will tell you when to return for your delayed scan. This exam generally takes 3 to 4 hours. Your images will be reviewed by a radiologist and the results sent to your physician. Your physician will then discuss these results with you.