Back to Top Vulvar Cancer Lymphoscintigraphy Study  - The Ottawa Hospital Website scanner for suspicious and malicious URLs


Your doctor has requested a Vulvar cancer Lymphoscintigraphy study. This booklet will answer some of the questions you may have. 

What is a Vulvar cancer Lymphoscintigraphy study? 

A Lymphoscintigraphy study shows the flow of lymph from the site of injection through the draining lymphatics and into the sentinel lymph node(s). The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node that receives drainage from a cancer site. A vulvar cancer lymphoscintigraphy study is done to help detect the sentinel node. There may be more than one sentinel node. If the sentinel node is found to be healthy, the chance of finding cancer in the remaining nodes is small.  

This test is done at two different times: pre-mapping study (done some days prior to your surgery) and on the day of the surgery.  

What is involved? 

When you arrive in the Nuclear Medicine department, a technologist will explain the entire procedure to you and then give you the opportunity to ask any questions. You will be required to change into hospital gowns for this test. The technologist will then ask you to lie on an imaging table to begin the study. A specially trained physician will give you four to six injections of a radiotracer near the cancer site, just below the skin’s surface. The amount of radioactivity used is very small and has no known side effects. The technologist will then use a special camera, called a gamma camera, to take several images of the area(s) of interest.  We may also take three dimensional images of the pelvis and the groin areas. Depending on your lymphatic flow and the day of your surgery, this procedure can take anywhere from one to two hours. 

Do I need to prepare for the scan? 

  • Bring your Health card. 
  • No special preparation is required for this test. However, you will likely be required to fast after midnight if you are having the surgery on the same day.  
  • If you are concerned about pain or discomfort during the injections, you can get Emla cream from your family physician and self-administer it around the scar/cancer site prior to your arrival to the Nuclear Medicine department. 
  • Please leave all valuables at home. 
  • Please notify our booking office at the time of scheduling your appointment if you have any concerns regarding claustrophobia, lying still, require a mechanical lift for transfer to the imaging bed, have a language barrier or any other special needs, so that appropriate arrangements can be made ahead to provide you with the best possible care. 

Will it hurt? 

The injection may hurt. You may also experience a burning sensation as the tracer is injected under the skin. This is normal and usually passes quickly. 

Is the radiation dangerous? 

The injection contains a small amount of radioactive tracer which emits gamma rays (these are similar to X-rays). The radiation dose is very low and will disappear by itself after two days. The results of your scan will give your doctor useful information about your condition and will help them plan your treatment. The benefits of having the scan far outweigh any potential risk from the small radiation dose. 

Do I need to do anything after the scan? 

No special precautions are needed after the scan. If you are travelling across any borders in the seven days after your scan, please ask us for further advice. Border crossings and airports have very sensitive radiation detectors which may pick up tiny amounts of radioactivity remaining after your scan. We will give you a letter that you can show to customs officials at border or airports. 

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the injection? 

Please tell us if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  

What about breastfeeding? 

Breastfeeding must be interruption of 4 hours after the exam, during which time one milk meal should be pumped and discarded. Prepare for your exam accordingly. 

How will I get the results of my scan? 

A specially trained doctor will examine the pictures. This is normally done soon after the end of the scan. A report is then sent to the doctor who asked us to do the scan. Your doctor will receive the results in time for your surgery. You will also have access to the report on MyChart as soon as it is released. 

If you have questions about the scan results or report, please contact your doctor directly. They are best able to interpret the report for you. 

Will this test cost me money? 

No. This test is paid for by the healthcare system. The test costs several hundred dollars, so please notify the department at 613-761-4831 if you cannot make your appointment. 

What should I do if I cannot make my appointment? 

If you cannot make you appointment, it is important that you notify the department at 613-761-4831 as soon as possible. Failure to make your appointment results in wasting of expensive materials that are ordered especially for your appointment and also reduces availability to other patients. Missed appointments may also result in delays of your treatments. 

Directions and Parking 

Civic Campus  1053 Carling Avenue – 1st Floor Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From within the Civic Campus, take the “C” elevators to the 1st Floor and follow the signs to Nuclear Medicine. Patients may also ask for directions at the patient information desk. General Campus  501 Smyth Road – Main level Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From the main entrance, follow the signs on the main level (located at the public elevators). Patients may also ask for directions at the patient Information desk. 
Park in either parking lot off Carling Avenue (P7) or in the multistory parking garage (P1).  Park in the parking garage which is located beside the main entrance just off Smyth Road.  

Parking instructions 

  • All parking lots are automated  
  • Take the parking ticket with you inside.  
  • When you have completed your appointment, you can pay by cash or credit card at one of our pay stations, or you can pay by credit card with express exit at the parking lot exit gates (the grace period after payment to leave facility is 20 minutes). 
  • Payment methods: 
    • Pay stations: Cash or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). 
  • Maximum parking fee is $13.00 

Visit The Ottawa Hospital’s website for additional directions and parking instructions and maps 

Last updated on: April 26th, 2022