Lymph Scan

You have been scheduled for a lymph scan, which involves the use of a small amount of radioactive material. The level of radioactivity used is extremely low and has no side effects.

Preparation for the procedure:
There are no pre-exam instructions. Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or breast feeding. The imaging may be changed, or special instructions given based upon that information.

What to expect:

For Lymphedema:
Once in the scan room you will lie down on a table and a doctor will make injections of a radiotracer into your skin either between the toes or fingers depending on the area your physician is interested in. A special detector called a gamma camera will be placed near the area to see where your lymph system later drains the injected material. You will be asked to return after two to four hours, and sometimes after twenty four hours for more images. The images take approximately forty five minutes each visit.

For a melanoma Lymph scan:
Once in the scan room you will lie down on a table and a doctor will make four injections of a radiotracer into your skin around the area your physician is interested in. A special detector called a gamma camera will be placed near the area to see where your lymph system later drains the injected material. You will be asked to return two to four hours and sometimes twenty four hours for more images. The images take approximately forty five minutes each visit. For some this will be used prior to surgery in order for the physician to locate which lymph node the area drains to. The surgeon will use a probe in surgery that locates the radioactivity in the lymph node. That lymph node will be removed and biopsied.


For a breast Lymph scan:
This test is used to identify the sentinel (first) lymph node which drains breast tissue.  This test may eliminate the need to have most of your under arm lymph nodes removed which can cause complications in some women.

You will be in a private room where you will put on a gown.  A technologist will explain the procedure in detail.  You will lie down on a bed and the physician will clean the injection site.  The procedure involves 1 injection into the breast tissue with a very small needle.  Lidocaine is added to the radioactive solution so there is minimal discomfort.  Your physician may request a scan which is performed 3 to 18 hours after the injection.  Imaging takes 30 to 45 minutes and a mark will be made on your skin at the site of the sentinel lymph node.  In addition to this mark, the surgeon will use a hand held gamma probe to identify the sentinel node during surgery.  The lymph node will be removed and biopsied which will aid you physician in determining an appropriate treatment plan.



Your questions and comments:
call (805) 563-5870.

Back to list