A gallium scan is a
nuclear medicine test that uses a special camera to
take pictures of certain tissues in the body after a radioactive tracer
(radionuclide or radioisotope) makes them visible. The results of a gallium
scan are usually available within 2 days after the scans are completed.
The collection and activity of gallium in
the bones, liver, spleen, and large intestine (colon) is normal. No areas of
unusual gallium accumulation are seen.
An abnormally high gallium accumulation
(hot spot) is present in one or more areas of the body, possibly meaning
inflammation, infection, or a tumor.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Pregnancy. A gallium scan is not usually done
during pregnancy because the radiation could damage the developing baby (fetus).
Having barium or bismuth in your
system. If a gallium scan is needed, it should be done before any tests that
use barium (such as a
barium enema). Taking a medicine (such as
Pepto-Bismol) that contains bismuth can also interfere with a gallium
Not being able to remain still during the test.
What To Think About
A gallium scan is used for specific types of
cancers, mainly of the
lymph nodes, bones, or
bone marrow. A normal scan does not exclude the
possibility of cancer, because some types of cancer do not show up on a gallium
scan. A gallium scan also cannot determine whether a tumor is cancerous
(malignant) or noncancerous (benign).