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Liver and Spleen Scan

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Being pregnant. A liver and spleen scan is usually not done during pregnancy because the radiation could damage the developing baby (fetus).
  • Using barium or bismuth. If a liver and spleen scan is needed, it should be done before any tests that use barium (such as a barium enema).
  • Not being able to lie still during the test.

What To Think About

  • Computed tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are often done now instead of a liver and spleen scan to check for problems with these organs.
  • If a liver and spleen scan show problems, more tests such as a liver biopsy, an ultrasound, or X-rays may be done.
  • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a special scan method that may be used during a liver and spleen scan. After the radioactive tracer is injected, a special camera (called a scintillation camera) takes pictures from several views.
  • Special types of scans to check the spleen or liver are done by collecting a blood sample from the person. These blood cells are "tagged" with a radioactive tracer. These tagged cells are then given back to the person. One type of scan can show if some part of the spleen is still in the body after surgery to remove the spleen (splenectomy). Another type of tagged red blood cell scan is used to find certain liver problems or areas of bleeding.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHoward Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Last RevisedOctober 17, 2012

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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