Lung Scan

A lung scan can be used to detect pulmonary embolisms, evaluate lung transplants, assess lung function before surgery, and for right to left cardiac shunt evaluations.

Often, a lung scan has two parts. One part involves inhaling a small amount of radioactive gas before painless images are taken of the chest. For the other part of the scan, a small amount of radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. Then, painless images of your chest are taken. Each of the two parts takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

You may not have both scans. The nuclear medicine doctor will decide which scans you need based on the reason you need them. If the nuclear medicine doctor asks for more images in different positions, don't be alarmed. It's a routine part of this test. You should plan on a lung scan taking up to three hours. You will be required to have a chest X-ray either before or after the scan.


  • Bring your complete list of medications to the lung scan.
  • Continue taking your medications, before and after the scan, as prescribed.
  • Feel free to eat and drink as you normally would.
  • Remember to bring the written order (prescription), for this test, given to you by your doctor.


  • Patients of childbearing age should review the pregnancy and breastfeeding guidelines.

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