Iodine-131 thyrogen stimulated whole body thyroid cancer imaging

What is this test?

This test is done to find out if you have active residual thyroid tissue and/or thyroid cancer tissue. It helps your doctor decide if treatment will be needed.

Your appointment

If you make any changes to your insurance before your appointment please call Registration at 1-866-309-0832. This will help prevent delays and the need to reschedule your test, as many radiology services need pre-authorization.

Take Elevator H or I to Level 3 Nuclear Medicine Center. It is between elevators H and I. 

Please call Nuclear Medicine at 1-319-356-1911 if you:

  • Have questions
  • Need to cancel your appointment
  • Are unable to do the prep listed below or think you may be pregnant
    • You may not be able to have the test or it may need to be rescheduled

Getting ready for your test

Before your test, tell your doctor or nurse if:

  • You are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.
    • You may have to give a urine sample if a pregnancy test is needed.

Skin Prep

  • Do not use iodine tincture two weeks or betadine one month before your test.


  • Two weeks before your test, start a low iodine diet.
  • Do not eat or drink for four hours before two hours after your thyroid test. You may drink water.
  • If you have any other test where you are told not to eat or drink for a longer amount of time, follow those instructions.


  • Stop taking dietary supplements with iodine, such as vitamins, minerals or kelp, at least one week before your test.
  • Talk to your doctor about how to take your thyroid and other medicines. If you are receiving Thyrogen injections, you can take your thyroid medicines. Most often, you can take your thyroid medicines before this test.
  • six to eight weeks before your test, do not have:
    • Diagnostic x-ray studies where you are given dyes by mouth
    • CT studies where you are given contrast in an IV
    • Intravenous Pyelogram (IVPs)

What to expect

Day 1, Monday

Go to your primary clinic for lab studies and your Thyrogen injection.

Thyrogen is a medicine used to stimulate the thyroid and thyroid cancer tissue. Then the tissue will take up the radioiodine you take in before your test. It is given as a shot into your muscle in your arm or thigh.

Day 2, Tuesday

Go to your primary clinic for your Thyrogen injection.

Day 3, Wednesday

Go to Nuclear Medicine. You will drink a dose of Iodine-131. This will take about 60 minutes.

Day 5, Friday

  1. Go to your primary clinic for lab studies.
  2. Go to Nuclear Medicine for the whole body scan. The whole scan is done using a special machine called a gamma camera. The camera:
    • Does not emit any radiation
    • Will be close to your body while the pictures are taken.
Last reviewed: 
August 2018

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