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What is a nuclear medicine parathyroid scan?

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A nuclear medicine parathyroid scan is a scan that takes an image of the parathyroid gland by using radioactive material, according to PeaceHealth. Nuclear medicine scans and imaging are different from a traditional X-ray scans and images because they use different energy sources.

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Nuclear medicine scans also focus on body physiology and show the way that a system functions, according to PeaceHealth. The nuclear medicine parathyroid scan is important for parathyroid surgery because it allows doctors to determine where abnormal areas exist in the gland tissue. It also allows doctors to determine when parathyroid glands have PTH levels that are too high or high blood calcium levels, both of which point to primary hyperparathyroidism. If the parathyroid condition is not treated, patients can develop problems such as bone conditions, heart problems, stomach problems and kidney stones, according to Aria Health.

People with parathyroid problems do not always know that they have the condition because the symptoms are not specific. Symptoms for parathyroid issues include memory problems, concentration problems, low energy, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, joint pain and a feeling of overall poor health. Treatment for the parathyroid condition involves parathyroid exploration surgery and a parathyroidectomy in most cases, according to the University of Michigan Health System.

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