What is a Meckel's diverticulum scan?
Meckel's diverticulum is a small abnormality in the small intestine that is present at birth. This abnormality sometimes contains gastric mucosa from the stomach, which can cause local ulcers and bleeding. A Meckel's scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that detects the abnormally-located gastric mucosa.
A radiopharmaceutical called Technetium-99m is injected into your child’s veins. Technetium-99m has a tiny amount of radioactive molecules in it.
A special camera, called a gamma camera, is used to take pictures of the abdomen once the radiopharmaceutical has been injected.
Frequently asked questions
A Meckel's diverticulum scan may be helpful to assess rectal bleeding.
- Your child must not have anything to eat or drink four hours prior to a Meckel's scan.
- It is important that your child does not have any barium studies within 48 hours prior to the scan.
- It is helpful to give your child a simple explanation as to why a Meckel’s scan is needed and assure him that you will be there for the entire time.
- You may want to bring your child’s favorite book, toy, or comforting object to use during the imaging time.
- We have various DVDs to choose from for your child to watch during the procedure, or you can bring one from home.
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 his or her registration information.
- You will be greeted by one of our nuclear medicine technologists who will explain to you and your child what will happen during the study.
- A tiny amount of the radiopharmaceutical will be injected into one of your child's veins and imaging of the abdomen will begin immediately.
- Imaging will continue for 30 minutes.
- Additional imaging may be required.
- It is important that your child remains as still as possible during the imaging.
Your child may experience some discomfort associated with the insertion of the intravenous needle. The needle used for the procedure is small. Once the radiopharmaceutical is injected, the needle is withdrawn and a bandage is placed over the site of the injection. The area where the injection was given may be a little sore.
Although the camera may appear large and intimidating, it does not touch your child.
We are committed to ensuring that your child receives the smallest radiation dose needed to obtain the desired result.
- Nuclear medicine has been used on babies and children for more than 40 years with no known adverse effects from the low doses employed.
- The radiopharmaceutical contains a very tiny amount of radioactive molecules, but we believe that the benefit to your child’s health outweighs potential radiation risk.
- The camera used to obtain the images does not produce any radiation.
- It is safe for you to be in the room with your child if you are pregnant or nursing
Once the scan is complete, the images will be evaluated for quality. If the scan is adequate, your child will be free to leave and resume normal activity.
One of our nuclear medicine physicians will review your child’s images and create a report of the findings and diagnosis.
The nuclear medicine physician will provide a report to the doctor who ordered your child’s Meckel's diverticulum scan. Your child’s doctor will then discuss the results with you.
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches Meckel's diverticulum scans
Our Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging staff are committed to providing a safe, comfortable, and child-friendly atmosphere with:
- specialized nuclear medicine physicians with expertise in interpreting Meckel's diverticulum scans in children of all ages
- certified nuclear medicine technologists with years of experience imaging children and teens
- Child Life specialists to help families prior to and during exams
- equipment adapted for pediatric use, which means age-appropriate care for children
- protocols that keep radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable while assuring high image quality.