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Lymphoscintigraphy is a noninvasive medical imaging test that provides images of the lymphatic system. These images can help your doctors diagnose problems related to the lymphatic system.
At Boston Children’s, the test is performed by the Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging program which provides a safe, comfortable and patient-friendly atmosphere with:
You can find out more here about what we're doing to keep nuclear medicine and radiology scans as safe as possible for children.
Lymphoscintigraphy is a noninvasive medical imaging test that helps your or your child's doctor diagnose problems related to the lymphatic system.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a network of small channels—similar to arteries and veins—that transport the fluid and cells of the immune system to and from the lymph nodes and throughout the body.
This fluid—called lymph—normally flows slowly from the arms and legs toward the center of the body and into the blood stream.
If the flow of lymph is blocked, the fluid can build up and the affected areas can become swollen.
What is lymphoscintigraphy?
Lymphoscintigraphy is a special type of nuclear medicine test that provides images of your child's lymphatic system.
Why would my doctors use lymphoscintigraphy?
We use lymphoscintigraphy to evaluate children and adults who may have several different conditions:
What kind of equipment is used in lymphoscintigraphy?
We perform lymphoscintigraphy using a gamma camera—a specialized camera that detects radiation and takes pictures from different angles. A computer helps create the images from the data obtained by the camera.
How does lymphoscintigraphy work?
Does lymphoscintigraphy hurt?
While the injection can cause some discomfort—it might feel similar to a bee sting—the imaging process itself is completely painless.
We use a topical anesthetic to reduce the pain of the injection.
Is lymphoscintigraphy safe?
Nuclear medicine has been used on babies and children for more than 40 years with no known adverse effects from the low doses used.
Boston Children's is committed to ensuring that your child receives the smallest radiation dose needed to obtain the desired result. You can find out more here about what we're doing to keep nuclear medicine and radiology scans as safe as possible.
Can I stay with my child during lymphoscintigraphy?
Yes. We encourage you to stay with your child during the entire procedure, though other children are not allowed in the procedure room.
How should I prepare my child for lymphoscintigraphy?
Here are a few tips that may make the procedure easier for your child.
What happens if my child is afraid or uncomfortable?
Getting a lymphoscintigraphy scan can sometimes be a little intimidating for small children—that’s why we’ve set everything up to be child-friendly. We place a great deal of importance on making sure children and their families are well informed about the procedure in advance, so that they know what to expect.
One of our child life specialists may also be available to help your child during the examination, using age-appropriate play and other distraction techniques.
Will my child be sedated?
No. Because lymphoscintigraphy just involves small injections and taking images, and because children only have to remain still for brief periods of time while being scanned, we don’t use sedation for most children.
Our technologists and child life specialists are good at helping children and families remain comfortable through procedures like lymphoscintigraphy. It’s because of these specialists that we so rarely need to sedate a child to perform lymphoscintigraphy—eliminating the inherent risks of anesthesia, especially in young children.
What do we do when we get to the hospital?
When you arrive, please go to the Nuclear Medicine check-in desk on the second floor of the main hospital. A clinical intake coordinator will check in your child and verify her registration information.
Then you’ll meet with one of our nuclear medicine technologists, who will explain to you and your child what will happen during the procedure.
How long will the scan take?
You should plan on being here for most of the day. It may take some time for the radiotracer to move throughout the lymphatic system.
Not all the time is spent in the examination room, though. In between imaging sessions, you and your child can wait in the waiting room, take a walk or go to the cafeteria. Just be sure to return to Nuclear Medicine in time for any additional imaging.
What happens after the lymphoscintigraphy procedure?
One of Boston Children's nuclear medicine physicians will review your child's images and create a report of the findings. We will send the report to the doctor who ordered your child's scan. Your child's doctor will then discuss the results with you.
In the meantime, unless your physician tells you otherwise, your child may resume normal activities immediately after the scan.
What if I have more questions?
Our physicians, technologists, nurses, and child life specialists are all available to answer any questions you have about lymphoscintigraphy (and any of our tests); you can reach the Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging at 617-355-7010.
Department of Radiology
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