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Gallbladder Scan

How It Is Done continued...

The technologist cleans the site on your arm where the radioactive tracer will be injected. A small amount of the radioactive tracer is then injected.

You will lie on your back on a table and a large scanning camera will be positioned closely above your abdomen. After the radioactive tracer is injected, the camera will scan for radiation released by the tracer and produce pictures as the tracer passes through your liver and into your gallbladder and small intestine. The first pictures will be taken right after the injection. The pictures may be continuous (like a video) or may be taken once in a while for up to the next 1½ hours. Each scan takes only a few minutes. You need to lie very still during each scan to avoid blurring the pictures. The camera does not produce any radiation, so you are not exposed to any more radiation while the scan is being done.

A substance (cholecystokinin) that stimulates the gallbladder may also be injected into your vein during the scans. The pictures taken after this injection can help determine whether the gallbladder is functioning normally. Computer analysis of the data may be used to check gallbladder function. You may be asked to answer questions about your reaction to the cholecystokinin. Occasionally medicine (morphine sulfate) is given to help diagnose inflammation of the gallbladder.

The gallbladder scan takes about 1 to 2 hours.

After the test

Depending upon your results, additional scans may be taken up to a day later. If you need to return for another gallbladder scan, you should not eat any fatty foods before you return.

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 gallbladder scan is usually painless. You may find it hard to remain still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan begins.

The test may be uncomfortable if you are having abdominal pain. Try to relax by breathing slowly and deeply.

If cholecystokinin is used during the test, it may cause nausea or abdominal pain. The technologist may ask you about changes in your pain during the test.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 17, 2012
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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