Meckel's Scan

What is it?

A Nuclear Medicine Meckel's scan is performed to look for the presence of ectopic gastric mucosa in the large bowel. If this condition exists it can cause pain in the abdomen and blood in the stool.

Nuclear Medicine scans are performed using very small amounts of radioactive material. The radioactive material is usually bound to other non-radioactive elements. These combined elements are called "radionuclides". The radionuclides emit energy called "photons". Radionuclides can be directed to many organs and systems in the body. Once a radionuclide is distributed in an organ or system, the photon energy is collected by a "Gamma Camera". The Gamma Camera detects the pattern of distribution of the radionuclide in the body and sends this information to a computer. The computer processes the information and displays the information in the form of a picture.

Nuclear Medicine exams differ from other x-ray procedures because the energy (x-rays and photons) come from different sources. The photon energy is emitted from the radionuclide injection and passes out of the body. Another major difference is that Nuclear Medicine exams best demonstrate body physiology (system function) whereas x-rays show anatomical detail.

What will happen to me?

The Nuclear Medicine Technologist will inject a special radionuclide into your vein, usually in your arm. The blood will carry the radionuclide to the ectopic gastric mucosa if it exists. To start the scan, the technologist will position you on a flat table and will place you under the gamma camera. The gamma camera will be very close to you to obtain the best picture. Sequential pictures will be taken to see any gradual collection of the radionuclide in the large bowel area.

How long will this test take?

The injection of the radionuclide takes only a few minutes. Once the actual scan is started it takes approximately 1 hour.

What will I feel, will it hurt?

You may feel a slight pinprick in the vein of your arm when the radionuclide is injected. You will not feel any effects from the radionuclide injection. When your scan is begun, you will need to lay flat on a table. You will need to lay very still while the scan is being performed so that the best picture can be made. You will not feel any effects from the gamma camera. It does not create radiation, it only detects the radiation coming from the radionuclide. The gamma camera is a large machine that collects the emitted photons from the radionuclide but produces very little sound. The gamma camera must be very close to you and will be moved over your body to obtain the pictures. The radiation will totally disappear from your body in about 48 hours. The radiation exposure you receive is no more than from a routine x-ray procedure.

What will the test show?

The radionuclide will distribute in any ectopic gastric mucosa if it is present in the large bowel. If the radionuclide does not collect in a section of the large bowel, it is a good indication that this condition does not exist.

How do I get ready?

You should not eat anything after midnight the night before your scan. Sometimes it is necessary to give you a medication one hour before the scan that will help the collection of radionuclide in the ectopic gastric mucosa Just before the start of your scan, you will need to urinate and empty your bladder so that you are as comfortable as possible during the exam. You should remove any metal such as belt buckle, keys, etc. since these will interfere with the pictures.

Reviewed: May 2005