A biliary scan is a nuclear medicine test. It uses a small amount of a radiopharmaceutical (radioactive tracer) to check your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts – the parts of the biliary system.
Pain medications containing morphine should be ceased prior to the scan. Check with your doctor to see how long you should be off them for. It is usually about 24 to 48 hours. All other medications can be taken.
You should fast for at least four hours prior to the commencement of the test.
The test is usually not performed in pregnant women, so please inform us before the test begins if you know that you are (or think you might be) pregnant.
You will receive two scans for this procedure. You will be lying down for about an hour while the camera takes pictures for the first one. Then you will be asked to wait for 45 minutes (as your gall bladder continues to fill) and drink a high-calorie nutritional drink. Then you will lie down again to receive the second scan, which takes about 30 minutes.
After the test procedure is explained to you, a needle will be placed into a vein in your arm. You will be given an injection of a small amount of a radioactive compound. A specialised camera is then used to take scans of your upper abdomen. In some cases, injecting a substance that usually contracts the gallbladder (CCK) is required, and imaging is continued for another 30 minutes.
There are no side effects or reactions from the HIDA injection. The injection does NOT contain iodine and is safe to give if you have had a previous allergic reaction to X-ray contrast injections. If you require the CCK injection, you may notice some nausea, abdominal pain or belching. If this occurs, it generally lasts less than 10 minutes. There are, however, no serious side effects with the CCK injection. Although you will be required to keep still during the scan, the procedure is entirely painless. There is no need to hold your breath during the test.
In general, the scans and results are sent to your doctor the next working day.
You can drive home after the scan. You will not be drowsy in any way.
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