What is a nuclear medicine procedure?
Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose, and sometimes treat, diseases. Radiotracers are usually, but not always, given to a patient in the form of an intravenous injection. Images of where the radiotracer is in the body and how long it stays there are made using a special camera called a nuclear medicine gamma camera. These cameras work in conjunction with computers to form images that provide data and information about the area of the body being imaged. The images generated can show if organs are working properly or not depending on if the radiotracers are absorbed by different tissue types, and at what rate or concentration they are absorbed.
What is a Hepatobiliary Scan (HIDA or DISIDA Scan)?
Hepatobiliary scan is a nuclear medicine procedure that demonstrates gallbladder function. You will be injected with a small amount of radioactive tracer. While lying flat on the table, the camera will be positioned over your chest and abdomen. Periodic images will be taken. It is important that you lie as still as possible. Depending on your gallbladder function, this study can take anywhere between one and four hours.
Your physician may order a gallbladder emptying study. This procedure starts the same as the hepatobiliary scan. Then, CCK, an enzyme, is given to stimulate your gallbladder to empty. You might experience some cramping or nausea. This should disappear within approximately 10 minutes. Additional images will be taken to see how your gallbladder contracts.
What preparation do I need for a hepatobiliary scan?
You will be asked to have nothing by mouth for 4 hours before the study and no pain medication on the day of the study.
Does the procedure hurt?
The injection of a radioactive substance into a vein in your arm is similar to having blood drawn; it may be uncomfortable. The scan is painless.
Is the procedure safe?
Nuclear medicine procedures are very safe. A nuclear medicine examination carries no greater risk than a standard x-ray procedure. The test requires only very small doses of radiation, often less than a conventional x-ray procedure.
Will I have any side effects from the injection?
You will not feel anything from the radioactive substance itself and side effects or adverse reactions are very rare.