Lung Scan Procedure

Your caregiver has suggested you have a lung scan. The lung scan is a procedure used to look at the lungs. The procedure uses radioactive isotopes. It is most often used to look for blood clots that may have traveled to the lungs. Isotopes are compounds that give off radioactive emissions (rays). These rays are picked up by a special camera. This camera is similar to a Geiger counter. These radioactive compounds are very short lived. They last in your body for a very short time. They are not harmful to you. Other terms for this procedure are Lung Ventilation/Perfusion Scan or V/Q scan.


  • Allergies.

  • Medications taken including herbs, eye drops, over the counter medications, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or novocaine.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

  • History of blood clots (thrombophlebitis).

  • History of bleeding or blood problems.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems.


You should be present 60 minutes prior to your procedure, or as suggested by your caregiver.


  • A small needle will be placed in a vein in your arm or hand. This needle will stay in place for the entire exam.

  • A small amount of very short acting radioactive material will be injected. This should cause no side effects.

  • Your lungs will then be scanned using a special camera. This camera will record the images. This part of the exam takes about one half hour.

  • You will then be asked to breath into a small machine. This machine will administer a second isotope. This takes approximately ten minutes. After this, the lungs are scanned again.

  • A radiologist (specialist in reading x-rays) can then look at the films. They will give their impression to your caregiver.

  • Following the test, you may go home unless otherwise instructed. You may resume normal activities and diet as instructed.

Ask your caregiver how you are to find out your results. Remember it is your responsibility to find out the results of your test. Do not assume everything is all right or "normal" if you have not heard from your caregiver.