E-mail Form
Email Results

 
 
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks
bookmarks-menu

Gallbladder radionuclide scan

Radionuclide - gallbladder; Gallbladder scan; Biliary scan; Cholescintigraphy; HIDA; Hepatobiliary nuclear imaging scan

Gallbladder radionuclide scan is a test that uses radioactive material to check gallbladder function. It is also used to look for bile duct blockage or leak.

How the Test is Performed

The health care provider will inject a radioactive chemical called a gamma emitting tracer into a vein. This material collects mostly in the liver. It will then flow with bile into the gallbladder and then to the duodenum or small intestine.

For the test:

  • You lie face up on a table under a scanner called a gamma camera. The scanner detects the rays coming from the tracer. A computer displays images of where the tracer is found in the organs.
  • Images are taken every 5 to 15 minutes. Most of the time, the test takes about 1 hour. At times, it can take up to 4 hours.

If the provider cannot see the gallbladder after certain amount of time, you may be given a small amount of morphine. This can help the radioactive material get into the gallbladder. The morphine may cause you to feel tired after the exam.

In some cases, you may be given a medicine during this test to see how well your gallbladder squeezes (contracts). The medicine may be injected into the vein. Otherwise, you may be asked to drink a high-density drink like Boost which will help your gallbladder contract.

How to Prepare for the Test

You need to eat something within a day of the test. However, you must stop eating or drinking 4 hours before the test starts.

How the Test will Feel

You will feel a sharp prick from the needle when the tracer is injected into the vein. The site may be sore after the injection. There is normally no pain during the scan.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is very good for detecting a sudden infection of the gallbladder or blockage of a bile duct. It is also helpful in determining whether there is complication of a transplanted liver or a leak after the gallbladder has been surgically removed.

The test can also be used to detect long-term gallbladder problems.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

Risks

There is a small risk to pregnant or nursing mothers. Unless it is absolutely necessary, the scan will be delayed until you are no longer pregnant or nursing.

The amount of radiation is small (less than that of a regular x-ray). It is almost all gone from the body within 1 or 2 days. Your risk from radiation may increase if you have a lot of scans.

Considerations

Most of the time, this test is done only if a person has sudden pain that may be from gallbladder disease or gallstones. For this reason, some people may need urgent treatment based on the test results.

This test is combined with other imaging (such as CT or ultrasound). After the gallbladder scan, the person may be prepared for surgery, if needed.

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Hepatobiliary scan (HIDA Scan) - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:635-636.

Fogel EL, Sherman S. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 155.

Grajo JR. Imaging of the liver. In: Sahani DV, Samir AE, eds. Abdominal Imaging. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 35.

Wang DQH, Afdhal NH. Gallstone disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 65.

  • Gallbladder

    Gallbladder - illustration

    The gallbladder is a muscular sac located under the liver. It stores and concentrates the bile produced in the liver that is not immediately needed for digestion. Bile is released from the gallbladder into the small intestine in response to food. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct at the small intestine adding enzymes to aid in digestion.

    Gallbladder

    illustration

  • Gallbladder radionuclide scan

    Gallbladder radionuclide scan - illustration

    The gallbladder radionuclide scan is performed by injecting a tracer (radioactive chemical) into the bloodstream. A gamma camera is used to perform the scan. The camera will detect the gamma rays being emitted from the tracer, and the image of where the tracer is found in the organs is transmitted to a computer. This test is very good for detecting acute infection (cholecystitis) or blockage of a bile duct. It is also helpful in determining whether there is rejection of a transplanted liver.

    Gallbladder radionuclide scan

    illustration

    • Gallbladder

      Gallbladder - illustration

      The gallbladder is a muscular sac located under the liver. It stores and concentrates the bile produced in the liver that is not immediately needed for digestion. Bile is released from the gallbladder into the small intestine in response to food. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct at the small intestine adding enzymes to aid in digestion.

      Gallbladder

      illustration

    • Gallbladder radionuclide scan

      Gallbladder radionuclide scan - illustration

      The gallbladder radionuclide scan is performed by injecting a tracer (radioactive chemical) into the bloodstream. A gamma camera is used to perform the scan. The camera will detect the gamma rays being emitted from the tracer, and the image of where the tracer is found in the organs is transmitted to a computer. This test is very good for detecting acute infection (cholecystitis) or blockage of a bile duct. It is also helpful in determining whether there is rejection of a transplanted liver.

      Gallbladder radionuclide scan

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Tests for Gallbladder radionuclide scan

     

     

    Review Date: 12/23/2018

    Reviewed By: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
    adam.com

     
     
     

     

     

    A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.
    Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.