SCINTIMAMMOGRAPHY What is scintimammography What is involved Do


               Your doctor would like you to have a “scintimammography” test.
                This leaflet will answer some of the questions you may have.

What is scintimammography?
Breast screening is normally carried out using mammography. Mammography results are
sometimes unclear. Scintimammography can be used instead to produce clearer results.

What is involved?
A small amount of chemical is injected into a vein. A vein in your foot is used for the
injection. You will have to remove shoes, tights etc. About five minutes after the injection
you will be asked to lie face down on a special mattress. The mattress is designed to allow
the breasts to hang freely. You will have to remove upper clothing. A loose fitting gown is

Pictures are then taken of your breasts using a “gamma camera”. To allow the camera to
see the chemical inside you, the chemical is slightly radioactive. A doctor looks at the
pictures to see whether any of the chemical has collected within the breast tissue.

The first picture will take 10 minutes. The camera will then be moved away. The technician
will then put a little marker against your nipple and take a second picture. It is important to
stay in the same position. This second picture takes 1 minute.

The same procedure is repeated for the second breast.

For the next picture you will be asked to lie on your back with your arms above your head.
The camera will be positioned over your chest. Two pictures are again taken, the first lasting
10 minutes and the second with markers lasting 1 minute.

During the test you should remain as still as possible but please breathe normally.

If you are a man undergoing this test, the procedure is the same.

Do I need to prepare for the scan?
No special preparation is necessary. Food in your stomach will not affect the images. For
your own comfort, avoid eating a large meal before the test. This is because you will have to
lie on your stomach for about 30 minutes.

Scintimammography is not recommended within seven days of a breast operation or biopsy.
This is because any bruising after the operation/biopsy could interfere with our pictures.
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Patient information leaflets / Scintimammography                    Issue: 8                 Page: 1 of 2
                            Nuclear Medicine Department,   Southend Hospital
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If I am taking tablets or other drugs, do I need to stop taking them?
Keep taking any medication you may be on. It will not interfere with the test.

Will it hurt?
Only the „pinprick‟ of the injection needle may hurt a bit. You may have had a blood test in
the past. This is much the same.
Some people experience discomfort lying on their stomach.
A few patients experience a metallic taste in their mouth after the injection - this usually
disappears after a few minutes. Some patients report temporary headache, flushing and a
non-itching rash.

Is the radiation dangerous?
The radioactivity will disappear by itself soon after the scan is finished (nearly all of it
disappears within one day, any remaining traces disappear within one week).
The amount of radiation is similar to that from an x-ray examination.

Do I need to do anything after the scan?
You should be able to eat, drink and go where you wish. Drink plenty of fluids for the rest of
the day. This will help wash the radioactive chemical out of your body more quickly.
If you are travelling abroad in the seven days after your scan, please ask us for further
advice. Ports and airports have very sensitive radiation detectors which may pick up tiny
amounts of radioactivity remaining after your scan. We will give you a letter that you can
show to customs officials at ports or airports.

What happens to the results of the scan?
A doctor will examine the pictures. This is normally done at the end of the day or early the
next day. A report is then sent to the hospital consultant who asked us to do the scan.

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the scan?
Yes, if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, please „phone us to let us know.
Also, please telephone us if you are breast-feeding.

Any more questions?
The staff of the department want your visit to be as pleasant as possible. If you have any
questions, please ask the staff in the nuclear medicine department. You can telephone, or
ask before the scan starts.

                                  Our telephone number is
                                  Southend (01702) 385142

Patient information leaflets / Scintimammography                     Issue: 8           Page: 2 of 2
                             Nuclear Medicine Department,   Southend Hospital

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