What is a Lung or V/Q Scan?

What is a Myocardial Perfusion Scan
A Lung scan, commonly called a V/Q scan, uses Nuclear Medicine to evaluate the function of the lungs. It is most commonly used to diagnose a clot, or pulmonary embolism (PE). It may also be requested to plan lung surgery.

Lung or V/Q Scan

What Happens during a Lung or V/Q Scan?

A. Before your procedure

What to bring

  • A referral from your doctor or medical specialist / and an appointment is required to this examination
  • Any relevant previous imaging
  • Your Medicare cards and concession cards

Preparation – on the day of your scan

No special preparation is required, however if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.

When you attend your appointment at Envision Medical Imaging, you will be asked a few safety questions. You’ll be asked to remove any jewellery and then change into an examination gown.

B. During your Lung or V/Q Scan


The nuclear med tech will explain what is involved in the V/Q examination and position you for the scan, then ask you to practice the required breathing procedure.

There are two stages to the V/Q scan. The first involves breathing in a harmless gas containing trace radioactive elements though a tube, holding several breaths briefly, with a number of deep breaths to follow. A gamma camera will then begin to take scans, rotating slowly around your chest for 10-15 minutes. You may breathe normally during this sequence, but try not to move. You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scan.

In the second stage of the V/Q examination, which follows immediately, the Nuclear Imaging Technologist will inject a perfusion radiopharmaceutical into a vein in your arm. This shows the blood supply to the lungs. A second set of images will then be obtained which takes about 10 minutes.

The entire V/Q scan takes around 45 minutes.

Risks and side effects

Nuclear medicine examinations are considered safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.

Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Envision Medical Imaging, you can be assured that using that latest technology and with the staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.

If you are worried or concerned about having a V/Q scan, you should discuss this with your referring doctor before coming to the examination.

If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination commences.

Who will perform my examination?

At Envision Medical Imaging, your stress test will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist, who has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and is accredited by the ANZSNM.

Lung or V/Q Scan

What happens after a lung or V/Q scan?

How do I receive my results?

Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported by our Nuclear Medicine credentialed radiologist or Nuclear Medicine physician (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of Nuclear Medicine studies). If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with you referring doctor or health care provider, Envision Medical Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination. Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor to discuss the results.

Post-procedural information

Radiation from the injected radiopharmaceutical diminishes quickly, however there is still a very small amount of residual radioactivity left for up to 24 hours after your scan.  You are free to resume normal activities following the procedure (unless otherwise advised). If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.