What is a MIBG Scan?

A MIBG scan helps identify and localize certain abnormal tissues and tumours. These tissues are mostly associated with the neuroendocrine system.


There is no special preparation for the examination and you may eat and drink normally before your appointment.

In regards to medication, some drugs may interfere with the scan. The doctor who referred you to us will tell you if you need to stop taking any of your medication before your scan. Otherwise take your medication as usual. Please bring with you a full list of your medications. The injection given for this scan contains iodine. This would normally be taken up by your thyroid gland, however we want to prevent thyroid uptake. Therefore, you will need to take some capsules (Potassium iodide) that will be mailed to you 3 – 5 days before the appointment date. They will be sent by registered mail and therefore you will need to sign for the delivery.

You must take two of these tablets the evening before the scan and another two tablets in the evening on the day of the scan (after your scan). Please let us know if you have any allergies to iodine.


If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is essential that you let us know before your appointment date. If you are a female of child bearing age (12-55 years old), you will be asked about your pregnancy and breastfeeding status. If you are unable to confirm you are not pregnant a pregnancy test may be performed.


All patients are entitled to have a chaperone present for any consultation, examination or procedure where they feel one is required. This chaperone may be a family member or friend. On occasions you may prefer a formal chaperone to be present (ie. trained member of staff).

The examination

Your examination is divided in two consecutive days which you must attend.

Upon your arrival radiographer will explain the procedure to you and will ask you a few questions about your health records. You will then have a small amount of radioactive tracer injected into a vein in your arm. The injected tracer is carried through the bloodstream to your targeted tissues. It emits gamma rays which can be detected by a piece of equipment called a gamma camera.

You will then be sent away and asked to return 4 and 24 hours after injection for the scan. This time gap is to allow the tracer to be fully absorbed into your body tissues for us to see it. Between the injection and the images acquisition you may eat as normal but you should drink more than usual and empty your bladder regularly. This will help to produce better quality pictures.

When you return for imaging we will ask you to empty your bladder and then we will ask you to lie on your back on the scan table. The camera will be placed above and below your body and the machine will move slowly from your head to your toes acquiring images of your body. The machine is very quiet and you do not go through a tube or tunnel.

You do not need to undress for the examination, but you may need to remove metal objects from your clothing or pockets, such as coins, jewelry and/or belts as these will interfere with the quality of the pictures.

How long will it take?

The administration of the tracer takes approximately 15 minutes. The scan is carried out over 2 consecutive days, and will take approximately 60 minutes on each visit.

You are free to leave the department/hospital between the injection and scans.

Who will be present?

Your scan will be performed by a Nuclear Medicine trained member of staff which stays with you in the room while scanning.

Can I bring a friend or relative with me?

You can bring a friend or relative with you and they may accompany you for the injection or scan. Because our waiting room is very small, we would prefer that you do not bring more than one person with you. It is advisable NOT to have a pregnant woman or any children with you. This is to avoid exposing them to unnecessary radiation.

Will the injection hurt?

The injection is similar to having blood taken. It will not make you drowsy or prevent you from driving a car.

Is radioactivity dangerous?

The amount of radiation involved is similar to that from an x-ray examination. The radioactivity naturally disperses from the body and is largely gone in 24 hours. The very low risk involved is balanced against the benefit of the information the examination provides for your doctors.