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Liver and Spleen Scan

How It Is Done continued...

You will lie on your back on a table and a large scanning camera will be placed right above you. It may move slowly above and around your body, scanning for the tracer and recording pictures as the tracer moves into your liver and spleen. The camera does not give off any radiation, so you are not exposed to more radiation during the scan.

You may be asked to move into different positions so the tracer spreads through the liver and spleen. You need to lie very still during each scan so the pictures are clear. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly during some of the scans.

A liver and spleen scan takes about 1 hour.

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle in your vein, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. You may find it hard to lie still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan begins.

Risks

Allergic reactions to the radioactive tracer are rare. Most of the tracer will be passed from your body (through your urine or stool) in a day. Be sure to flush the toilet right away and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to prevent anyone else from being in touch with the tracer. The amount of radiation used in the scan is so small that people can be in contact with you following the test.

In some cases, you may develop soreness or swelling at the injection site. Try putting a moist, warm pack on your arm.

There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level radioactive tracer used for this test.

Results

A liver and spleen scan is a nuclear scan that is done to look at these organs for disease. The results of a liver and spleen scan are ready in 2 days.

Liver and spleen scan

Normal:

Normal amounts of the radioactive tracer are found in the liver and spleen. No areas of large or small amounts of tracer are seen.

The liver and spleen are normal in size, shape, and location.

Abnormal:

The tracer pattern in the liver may show diseases.

The tracer pattern shows a cyst, an abscess, a collection of blood (hematoma), a lump made up of blood vessels (hemangioma), or a tumor.

The tracer pattern in the spleen may not be in the right place or may show spleen tissue that was missed during surgery to remove the spleen (splenectomy).

The liver or spleen may be enlarged because of a disease or may have an abnormal shape because a tumor is pressing against the organ.

Certain types of tumors may cause large amounts of tracer to collect in the liver or spleen.

Certain types of tumors may cause no tracer to collect in the liver or spleen.

Some conditions cause more tracer to show up in the spleen than in the liver.

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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