What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You'll be asked to change into a hospital gown before your HIDA scan begins. Your health care team will position you on a table, usually on your back. The radioactive tracer is then injected into a vein in your arm.

The tracer travels through your bloodstream to your liver, where it's taken up by the bile-producing cells. The radioactive tracer travels with the bile from your liver into your gallbladder and through your bile ducts to your small intestine.

You may feel some pressure while the radioactive tracer is injected into your vein.

As you lie on the table, a special gamma camera is positioned over your abdomen taking pictures of the tracer as it moves through your body. The gamma camera takes pictures continually for about an hour.

You'll need to keep still during the HIDA scan. This can become uncomfortable, but you may find that you can lessen the discomfort by taking deep breaths and thinking about other things. Tell your health care team if you're uncomfortable.

The radiologist will watch on a computer the progress of the radioactive tracer through your body. The HIDA scan may be stopped when the radioactive tracer is seen in the gallbladder and enters your small intestine. This typically takes about an hour. In some cases extra imaging will be performed if original images aren't satisfactory, if morphine is given to help visualize the gallbladder or if the medication CCK is given to look at the contraction of the gallbladder.

After your HIDA scan

In most cases you can go about your day after your HIDA scan. You'll likely still have some of the radioactive tracer in your body. The substance will leave your body by natural decay or through your urine over the next day or two.

Apr. 19, 2013