A HIDA scan is an imaging test. It helps to diagnose problems of the gallbladder and liver.
Bile is a fluid that is made in the liver. It is stored in the bile duct. This fluid helps your body digest certain foods. If there is a problem with the production or flow of bile, a HIDA scan may find the problem.
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This test is done to:
This test is not done on women who are pregnant.
Complications are rare. Some may have an allergic reaction to tracers used in the scan. Talk to your doctor about any allergies you have.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history. A physical exam will be done. Before the procedure, you will need to:
You will lie on your back. It is important to lie still during the entire test. Taking deep breaths or focusing on other things may help. The doctor will inject a tracer drug into an IV. Children and some adults may also be given a sedative to keep calm. A special camera will track the path of the tracer drug as it goes through your liver, gallbladder, and biliary ducts. The camera will take pictures by scanning your abdomen. It will pass back and forth about every 5-10 minutes for one hour. In some cases, more pictures may be needed 2, 4, or 24 hours later.
Some people may need to be given morphine to create spasms and get a better view of the gallbladder. A fatty meal may also be given to check the digestive process in the intestines near the gallbladder and liver.
You may feel mild discomfort during the injection, and it may be challenging to stay still for a long time. The imaging does not cause pain.
The doctor is looking for the tracer drug, or darkened areas, on the monitor. A normal result is when the tracer drug, which contains a dye, moves freely through the system. A problem, like a blockage, leak, or inflammation may be present if the tracer drug moves slowly through the system, does not show on the monitor, or is seen in other areas. The doctor may discuss the results of your scan with you.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Gallbladder scan. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/gastroenterology/gallbladder_scan_92,P07694. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Hepatobiliary scan (HIDA scan). UW Medicine website. Available at: http://www.uwmedicine.org/health-library/pages/hepatobiliary-scan-hida-scan.aspx. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD