Cholescintigraphy is an imaging process used to detect problems in the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. It is also known as a Hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan. In this, a tracer travels through the bloodstream to the liver, where the bile-producing cells take it up. The tracer then makes its movement with the bile into the gallbladder and through the bile ducts to the small intestine.

A nuclear medicine scanner (gamma camera) records the flow of the tracer from the liver into the gallbladder and small intestine and produces computer images.


Before the Process

The doctors would probably ask the people to fast for hours before the process. They might be allowed to drink water and other clear liquids. The healthcare team would position the person on a table, typically on the back, and then inject the radioactive tracer into a vein in the arm. People might feel pressure or a cold sensation while the radioactive tracer gets injected.

During the Process

During the test, people might get an intravenous injection of the drug sincalide , which makes the gall bladder emptied. Morphine, another drug sometimes is provided during the process; it makes the gallbladder more convenient to visualize.

A gamma camera is placed over the abdomen to take pictures of the tracer as it travels through the body. The process takes about an hour, during which the people would be asked to remain still.

After the Process

In certain instances, people could go about their day to day routine, after the scan. The small amount of radioactive tracer would lose its reactivity or navigate in the urine and stool over the next day or two. People are recommended to drink plenty of water to help flush it out of the system.


A Cholescintigraphy carries only a few risks, and it includes:

  • Allergic reaction to medicines containing radioactive tracers used for the scan

  • Injury at the injection site

  • Radiation exposure


Female patients should tell the doctors if there is a chance that they could be pregnant or if they are breast-feeding. In most cases, nuclear medicine tests, such as the HIDA scan, are not performed in women who are expecting kids because of possible harm to the baby.


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