Thyroid Uptake and Scan Cost

Written by: Staff

The thyroid scan and uptake, commonly referred to as a radioactive iodine uptake test (RAIU) in the medical world, will use small amounts of radioactive materials, known as radiotracers, a camera, and a computer to help determine your thyroid’s size, shape, position and function.

This type of scan is often ordered by your physician when he or she wants to determine if the gland is working, help diagnose any problem related to the thyroid glance, assess the nodule discovered in the gland, detect any abnormalities, determine if the thyroid cancer is spreading and/or evaluate any changes in the gland following a surgery, according to

Thyroid Uptake and Scan Cost
Thyroid Check” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by cbgrfx123

How much does a thyroid uptake scan cost?

The cost of a thyroid uptake and scan will greatly depend on your geographical location, the doctor performing the scan and if insurance is involved.  From the costs we researched, patients reported anywhere from as little $425 to more than $1,000 without insurance.

On, for example, they listed more than 70+ providers across the United States, with the national average on its website being $433 at the time of this publishing.

Two doctors on agree that $1,000 is a good price to budget for if you do not have a health insurance policy.

According to a forum member on this forum thread, he claimed he paid $840 without insurance for the process, but if he paid within 30 days, they would knock 30% off the price.

Preparing for the test

Six weeks before the test, you cannot have an x-ray exam involving an iodine contrast, and about fur weeks prior, you will also be asked to stop taking any thyroid hormone medicine, but you will need to check with your doctor to confirm this as per the University of Washington.  Always tell your physician about any prescriptions or OTC medicine you’re taking at the moment to see if you can continue to do so.  WebMD also says you should let your doctor know if you have an allergic reaction to iodine, anaphylaxis or might be pregnant or currently breastfeeding.

Depending on the facility protocol, you may be asked to wear nothing but a gown or you may be able to wear some of your clothing.  In any case, all metal objects, such as jewelry, must be removed in order to avoid any interference with the scan.

Days prior to the test, your doctor will more than likely ask for bloodwork to measure the level of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream, and hours before the scan begins, you will more than likely have to fast for a few hours in order to avoid affecting the uptake measurement results.

How does the test work?

The scanning portion

During the scanning portion, you will lay back on a moveable examination table, where an IV catheter is inserted into either your arm or hand.

Next, depending on the type of exam being performed, a dose of radiotracer is either injected, swallowed or it can be inhaled as a gas.  If, however, it is taken orally, you will be asked to take it about 24 hours prior to the scan.  If administered as an injection, this is done about 30 minutes before the scan begins.

When it is time for the scan, the gamma camera, as you’re laying down, will take and capture a series of images from your thyroid gland at all angels.  During this time, you will need to remain still to ensure the accuracy of the pictures.

After the scan is complete, you will be asked to lay on the examination table until the technologist confirms all of the necessary images were taken as in some cases, more images may be necessary for better clarification or to better visualize certain areas.

The entire scanning portion can take about 30 minutes.

The uptake process

As for the uptake process, you will be given a radioactive iodine, in either a liquid or capsule form, often several hours before the first measurements are taken.

Once you take this radioactive iodine, uptake measurements will be taken at random intervals, ranging from six to 24 hours.  At this time, when the measurement is necessary, you will sit upright in a chair, where a stationary probe will be positioned over the thyroid gland.

Like the scanning portion, as long as all of the images are clear and concise, then you be cleared to leave. states that a healthy thyroid should be an even green in color, and if any red spots are spotted on the image, this could be a sign of abnormal growths on the thyroid.

The uptake process is much quicker than the scanning, often taking as little as five minutes.

The entire process, both the scan and uptake, are known to be relatively painless, but in some cases, patients may feel a pinch of discomfort when asked to remain still while the gamma camera takes images.  In some cases, patients report a slight sting when the intravenous line is injected before the scan begins.

The results

As per the University of Washington, a doctor with special training in nuclear medicine, after the procedure is done, will review the images and will send a report directly to your doctor, who, in turn, will share the results with you.   If your results are showing your thyroid isn’t functioning as it should, then your doctor, depending on these results, will more than likely order more tests to help find the right diagnosis.

Risks of a thyroid uptake and scan

As there’s a small amount of radiation contained during the scan, your exposure will be minimal, within acceptable ranges, but at this time, there are no long-term complications of having this procedure done.

Some patients have reported an allergic reaction to the radionuclide material.  Albeit rare, the effects, even when experienced, are considered to be mild, often resulting in redness and/or mild pain near the injection site.

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