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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