A Meckel’s diverticulum is a bulge in the small intestine present at birth and is a remnant of the yolk stalk. It is the most common malformation of the gastrointestinal tract and is present in approximately 2% of the population. The Meckel’s diverticulum can contain gastric mucosa, and can present with bleeding, abdominal pain and occasionally intestinal obstruction.
The nuclear medicine Meckel’s scan detects the presence of gastric tissue within the diverticulum by an injection of a low dose of radioactivity. The scan lasts one hour and the location of the diverticulum can be readily visualised.
Meckel’s scan preparation
What is a Meckel’s diverticulum?
A Meckel’s diverticulum is an abnormality in the small intestine that is present at birth. A Meckel’s diverticulum scan is a nuclear medicine test that detects the abnormally-located gastric mucosa. Gastric mucosa is the inner lining of the stomach, and when it is present in a Meckel’s diverticulum it can lead to ulcers and bleeding.
What is a nuclear medicine Meckel’s diverticulum scan?
A Meckel’s diverticulum scan is a nuclear medicine exam that uses a radioactive pharmaceutical called Technetium-99m that is injected into your child’s vein. A special camera, called a gamma camera, is used to take pictures of the abdomen once the radiopharmaceutical has been injected.
Are there are any risks?
As the gamma rays are like X-rays, there are small risks associated with being exposed to radiation. However, the radiation decays away over a few hours and the amount of radiation used in medical imaging is very low. This is comparable to the natural radiation we all receive from the environment over about two months. In fact, the risks from missing a disorder by not having the study may be considerably greater than the risks of the radiation. If you are concerned about the risks of the radiation, please speak to a member of our team.
Is there any special preparation for the scan?
Your child will need to fast for 6 hours before the scan. It is important that your child doesn’t have any barium studies in the x-ray department within 48 hours prior to the scan.
When you make your appointment, you will be asked what medication your child is currently taking. Your doctor may have prescribed some pre-medication for your child to take for a few days before the scan. Please let us know if there is any reason your child could not take this medicine.
Arriving for your appointment
When you arrive for your appointment, please go to the reception desk, after which you will be shown where to wait until collected by a colleague.
You will be greeted by one of our play specialists, who will help reassure your child about the scan they are going to have, and help them relax while in the waiting room.
While you are waiting, your child will be able to select from a range of themes for the scanning room decoration, lighting and music.
Your technologist will call you through for your scan and you may be asked some questions about your child’s health, or whether your child has had this examination before.
What happens during the scan?
Your technologist will take you and your child through to the scanning room, where your child will lie down on the couch. The technologist will give your child an injection of the radiopharmaceutical into a vein in the arm. When it is time for the imaging to begin, your technologist will position the gamma camera over your child’s abdomen. The gamma camera will then take a series of images. The camera will stay in one position, and while the camera is taking pictures, your child will need to remain still for up to one hour.
During this procedure, parents are usually allowed and often encouraged to stay in the room. The exception to this is if the child’s mother is pregnant.
Can my child listen to music or watch a movie during the scan?
Your technologist will ask your child whether he/she would like to listen to music or watch a movie during the scan. You may bring in a CD, DVD or select music from our selection. You could also bring a favourite book to read to your child during the scan.
Will it be uncomfortable?
No. Apart from the injection, you will not feel anything.
How long will it take?
The scan takes one hour, but sometimes additional images are taken. You will spend less than two hours in the department.
Are there any after-effects?
The radiopharmaceutical causes no side-effects, nor will your child feel drowsy.
When will you get the results?
The scan will be examined after your visit and a written report on the findings will be sent to your referring doctor within 48 hours.
The radiopharmaceutical required for this examination is ordered especially for you. If your child cannot attend their appointment, please let the department know as soon as possible, so that we can use it for someone else.
We hope that this leaflet has answered your questions, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion about your treatment with the doctors looking after you. Make sure you are satisfied that you have received enough information about the procedure.