How is a gallbladder scan performed?

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The most common gallbladder scan is an ultrasound. This is done with a small probe that is gently scanned over your abdomen. The probe sends sound waves through the body and creates images using these sound waves. Your doctor or a technician can perform the ultrasound scan. It is not invasive and does not use radiation. Other scans include a computed tomography (CT) scan, which uses x-rays to scan the body and produce images, and a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan, which looks at how the gallbladder functions after you receive an injection of a drug that is taken up by the liver and gallbladder and then emptied into the intestines.
A nuclear technologist will clean the area on your arm where a radioactive tracer will be injected.
You will lie on your back on a table where a large scanning camera will be positioned closely above your abdomen. After the radioactive tracer is injected, the camera will scan for the radiation from the tracer. Pictures are produced as the tracer moves through your liver and into your gallbladder and small intestine.
The pictures may be continuous, much like a video, or taken once in a while for up to the next 1½ hours. But each scan takes only a few minutes. You need to lie very still during each scan to avoid blurring the pictures. The camera does not produce any radiation, so you are not exposed to any additional radiation while the scan is being done. A gallbladder scan is usually painless.
The scan's pictures are normally interpreted by a radiologist or nuclear medicine specialist.

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Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic Imaging

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.