In most cases, the doctor who interprets the HIDA scan images (nuclear radiologist) will send the results to your doctor, who will discuss them with you.
In HIDA scan images viewed on a computer monitor, the radiotracer appears as regions of dark color on a lighter background. The more dark color in a given area, the greater the amount of radioactive tracer present. The movement of this dark color throughout the series of HIDA scan images indicates that the radioactive tracer was able to move freely through your liver, bile ducts and gallbladder and into the small intestine. If the radioactive tracer is missing from certain areas on a scan, it may indicate a blockage or other problem.
HIDA scans on their own usually can't diagnose a problem. Your doctor considers them along with your signs and symptoms, other test results, and other imaging to arrive at a diagnosis.
Results of a HIDA scan include:
- Normal. A normal result means that the radioactive tracer moved freely along with the bile from your liver into your gallbladder and small intestine. No problems were detected.
- Slow movement of radioactive tracer. If the radioactive tracer moves through your bile ducts very slowly, this may indicate a blockage or obstruction, or a problem in liver function.
- No radioactive tracer seen in the gallbladder. If the radioactive tracer isn't seen in your gallbladder, this may indicate acute inflammation (acute cholecystitis).
- Abnormal low gallbladder ejection fraction. If the amount of radiotracer leaving the gallbladder is low after giving the medication CCK, this may indicate chronic inflammation (chronic cholecystitis).
- Radioactive tracer detected in other areas. If the radioactive tracer is found outside of your biliary system, this may indicate a leak.
Your doctor will discuss your specific results with you.
April 19, 2013
- Tulchinsky M, et al. SNM practice guideline for hepatobiliary scintigraphy 4.0. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology. 2010;38:210.
- General nuclear medicine. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=gennuclear&bhcp=1. Accessed Sept. 14, 2010.
- Practice guideline for the performance of adult and pediatric hepatobiliary scintigraphy. Reston, Va.: American College of Radiology. http://www.acr.org/SecondaryMainMenuCategories/quality_safety/guidelines/nuc_med/hepatobiliary_scintigraphy.aspx. Accessed Sept. 14, 2010.
- Lambie H, et al. Tc99m-hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scintigraphy in clinical practice. Clinical Radiology. 2011;66:1094.
- Hoekstra L, et al. Physiological and biochemical basis of clinical liver function tests. Annals of Surgery. 2013;257:27.
- Nathan MA. (Expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 12, 2013.