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What is a gallbladder scan?

A gallbladder scan is an imaging procedure that provides a view of the gallbladder to check its structure and function. The gallbladder is a small organ attached to the liver that stores bile and then releases the bile into a duct to be transferred into the intestine. There are different means of scanning the gallbladder, but the most common is an ultrasound. In an ultrasound, a device called a transducer sends sound waves into the body to create an image of the organ on a screen. A gallbladder scan may be used to diagnose problems in the gallbladder and surrounding structures including:
  • a blocked or abnormal bile duct
  • bile leaks
  • gallbladder infection
  • gallstones
  • tumors
  • abscesses
  • cysts
  • blood clots
  • malfunctions of the gallbladder
Another type of gallbladder scan, called a gallbladder radionuclide scan, is a type of nuclear medicine scan used to check the structure and function of the gallbladder. A radioactive substance called a tracer is injected into a vein in the arm. The tracer is processed through the liver and gallbladder, while a special camera takes images of the structures and tissues through which the tracer travels. The radionuclide scan may be used to check an infection of the gallbladder, blockage of a bile duct, or to determine the function of a transplanted liver. 

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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.