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Liver and Spleen Scan

How It Is Done

A liver and spleen scan is often done by a nuclear medicine technologist. The scan pictures are read by a radiologist or nuclear medicine specialist.

You will need to take off any jewelry. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes. You will be given a gown to wear during the test.

During the test

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 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.

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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