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 is usually
painless. You may find it difficult to remain still during the scan. Ask for a
pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan
There is always a slight risk of damage to
cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low level of
radiation released by the radioactive tracer used for this test.
Allergic reactions to the radioactive tracer are rare.
Most of the tracer will be eliminated from your body (through your urine or
stool) within 4 days. The amount of radiation is so small that it is not a risk
for people to come in contact with you following the test.
Sometimes you may have soreness or swelling at the injection site. These
symptoms can usually be relieved by applying moist, warm compresses to your
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.