CT Cholangiogram

What is a cholangiogram

A CT scan is used to examine the gall bladder and bile ducts. Biliscopin, a special contrast medium (sometimes called “x-ray dye”), is a colourless liquid which drains into your bile through your liver. This allows our radiologist to see your gallbladder and bile ducts more clearly on the CT scan. The Biliscopin will be passed out in the urine and bile over a few hours.

You are required to undertake a blood test 1-2 weeks prior to your appointment so our nursing team can assess your Bilirubin. If the result is >30 please contact North Shore Radiology and Nuclear Medicine as we will need to discuss the result with the radiologist before proceeding.

You need to fast for 8 hours before this examination. Continue to take all your normal medications with sips of water.

If any of the following apply to you please notify the hospital staff looking after you or contact the CT Department in Medical Imaging (contact numbers above):

  • Significant allergies, asthma, myeloma, kidney, liver, thyroid disease.
  • A previous reaction to IV contrast / Biliscopin (dye): you may require a short course of steroids prior to the CT.
  • Diabetes: If you take the oral diabetes medication metformin (Diabex, Glucophage, Diaformin) – you may need to stop your tablets for 48hrs after the test, and have your kidney function re-checked. Please contact our nursing team.
  • If you might be pregnant: In general, CT and screening x-ray studies should be avoided during pregnancy, where possible.


If you are breast feeding: For infants 0-8 weeks of age, it is recommended that alternative methods of feeding are used.

Breastfeeding may resume after this

You should allow around 2 hours for your examination, you will be required to stay in our department during this time.

Prior to the scan, you will need to change into a patient gown. A small needle will be placed in a vein in your arm and Biliscopin (an X-ray contrast) will be infused over 30-45minutes. This will be monitored by the nursing staff in Radiology. Please alert radiology staff immediately if you have discomfort during the injection.

There will be a delay of 1-1½hours while the Biliscopin goes through to highlight the biliary system. During the scan you can hear the mechanisms inside of the machine whirring. It is very important that you keep still. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly. Please listen to any instructions given (you can speak to the radiographer at all times). Radiology staff members shall be available to care for you at all times, and to answer any queries that you may have.


A CT cholangiogram is a very safe way of examining the gall bladder and bile ducts. The only recorded side effects to this procedure are in relation to iodine contrast allergies. RANZCR Iodinated Contrast Guidelines | RANZCR  Inside Radiology: Iodine containing contrast medium 2020


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