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Gallium Scan

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture when the tracer is injected. Or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Otherwise, a gallium scan usually causes no pain. You may find it hard to stay still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as you can before the scan begins.


There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation. The tracer used for this test gives off a low level of radiation.

Allergic reactions to the tracer are rare. Your body will get rid of most of the tracer (through your urine or stool) within 4 days. The amount of radiation is very small. So it is not a risk for people to come in contact with you after the test.

Your injection site may swell or be sore. To get relief, you can apply a moist, warm compress to your arm.


A gallium scan is a nuclear medicine test. A special camera takes pictures of certain tissues in the body after a radioactive tracer makes the tissues able to be seen. The test results are usually ready within 2 days after you had the scans.

Gallium scan

The collection and activity of gallium in the bones, liver, spleen, and large intestine is normal. No areas of unusual amounts of gallium are seen.


An abnormally high amount of gallium (hot spot) is present in one or more areas of the body. This could mean inflammation, infection, or a tumor.

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:

  • You are pregnant. A gallium scan is not usually done during pregnancy because the radiation could harm the baby (fetus).
  • You have 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 affect the test.
  • You can't stay still during the test.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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