Nuclear Medicine Hepatobiliary Scan

What is a Hepatobiliary Scan?

A nuclear medicine hepatobiliary scan is a very accurate means of detecting gall bladder disease.  The liver produces a chemical called bile.  Bile aids in the digestion of food.  In our hepatobiliary system, bile goes through the liver, gall bladder and small intestine via various ducts.  Sometimes the flow of bile is altered or stopped due to disease or gallstones.  This can cause nausea, gas, loss of appetite, and/or severe right sided pain.

How is the examination performed?

A registered Nuclear Medicine Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have.  This exam is performed by injecting a small, safe amount of radioactive tracer into an intravenous (IV) site in your hand or arm.  Images are acquired for about 60-90 minutes before the exam is complete.

Who is a candidate for a Hepatobiliary Scan?

Anyone experiencing nausea, gas, loss of appetite, and/or severe right upper quadrant abdominal pain is a possible candidate for this exam.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

Yes, please DO NOT eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior to your scheduled exam.  DO NOT take Demerol or any morphine related pain medication for 24 hours prior to your appointment.  If you need to take other medications such as heart medications, please do so with a small amount of water in the morning. Please do not wear any clothing that has metal snaps or clasps near the abdomen.

What will I experience?

Your Nuclear Medicine Technologist will begin by laying you down on the imaging table, making you as comfortable as possible.  He will start an IV in your hand or arm and prepare the camera for your images.  A small amount of radioactive tracer will be injected into your IV and the images will begin.  The first set of images are acquired while the radioactive material enters your blood stream and begins to fill your liver and gallbladder.  After about 30 minutes to an hour, your gallbladder will be filled with the tracer.

At this time, the Technologist will inject you with a drug that causes the gallbladder to constrict or squeeze its contents out into the digestive system in order to break down fats.  Another set of images are acquired for 30 minutes while your gallbladder is emptying.

 What happens next?

After the scan is complete, you will be able to resume normal daily activities.  Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and the nuclear medicine computer and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation.

Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation.  A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test.  Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying  you of the results.

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