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What is a MIBG scan?

A MIBG (iodine meta-iodobenzylguanidine) scan is a test used to find tumors of a specific origin. Special pictures are taken after a radioactive medicine is injected into a vein. This radioactive medicine is called a radiopharmaceutical which is a tiny amount of a radioactive liquid. The pictures show the radioactive medicine in the tumors.

Before the Scan

Explain to your child what will happen during the test. For young children, use simple words and explain only shortly before the test.

Some children may need sedation (medication) for their procedure to help them stay still for the test. If sedation is required, a nurse or doctor will explain it to you, and you will be given additional information about eating and drinking.

Your child can eat and drink as usual unless they are scheduled to be sedated.

To prepare for the test, it is important that your child takes a medication (supersaturated potassium iodide) by mouth on the day before the injection, the day of injection, and two days after the injection for a total of 4 days. The doctor will give you a prescription for the medication. The nurse or doctor will explain the medication to you.

During the Scan

An MIBG scan takes two days to complete:

Day 1:
A small needle called an IV will be placed into a vein in your child's hand or arm. A numbing cream or spray may be used to numb the area where the IV will be placed. The radioactive medicine will then be injected through the IV that is in your child’s vein and it will spread through your child’s body.

Day 2:
Your child will return to the Nuclear Medicine department to continue with the test. Your child will need to lie still on a table on his/her back while a special camera take pictures of your child’s body. The camera will not hurt or touch your child. A safety belt will be placed around your child to keep him/her safe on the table. You will be able to stay with your child during the entire test unless they are sedated. The test takes around 60-90 minutes. Your child can watch one of our DVD’s or they can bring their favorite DVD from home, watch television, or listen to music on their personal device during the test.

After the Scan

To get the radioactive medicine out from your child’s body, your child should drink lots of fluids and urinate often. The medicine should be completely out of your child’s body within 24 hours.

Make sure you and your child wash your hands after urinating or when handling diapers or sheets soaked with urine.

After the test, your child may return to normal activities and meals. If your child was given sedation medicine, a nurse will monitor your child in the sedation area until your child wakes up.

Test Results

Results of the test will be available within 24-48 hours to your child’s doctor that ordered the test. If you do not get the results of the test, contact your child’s doctor.

The nuclear medicine technologist will call you the day before the scheduled MIBG scan to remind you of the test. If you have questions about the test, please call (757) 668-7877.

For additional information regarding Nuclear Medicine imaging please refer to or

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 03/2016

(757) 668-7000