Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

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Released February 21, 2013

Don’t use nuclear medicine thyroid scans to evaluate thyroid nodules in patients with normal thyroid gland function.

  • Nuclear medicine thyroid scanning does not conclusively determine whether thyroid nodules are benign or malignant.
  • Cold nodules on thyroid scans will still require biopsy.
  • Nuclear medicine thyroid scans are useful to evaluate the functional status of thyroid nodules in patients who are hyperthyroid.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) appointed a Steering Committee, led by the president-elect, to develop the “Top 5” list. This committee solicited input from five SNMMI clinical specialty councils (cardiovascular, brain, nuclear oncology, general nuclear medicine, pediatric) and our PET Center of Excellence. A task force made up of the Steering Committee and specialty council/center leadership convened, and its members also provided recommendations. The Steering Committee reviewed and ranked the submissions and presented the five highest-ranked statements to the SNMMI Board of Directors and House of Delegates.

SNMMI’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be obtained by contacting the organization (


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Cooper DS, Doherty GM, Haugen BR, Kloos RT, Lee SL, Mandel SJ, Mazzaferri EL, McIver B, Pacini F, Schlumberger M, Sherman SI, Steward DL, Tuttle RM, American Thyroid Association (ATA) Guidelines Taskforce on Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer. Revised American Thyroid Association Management Guidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer. Thyroid [Internet]. 2009 Nov [cited 2012 Oct 19];19(11):1167-214.

Lee JC, Harris AM, Khafagiminimum FA. Thyroid Scans. Aust Fam Physician [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2012 Oct 19];41(8): 586.