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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.
Gallbladder, Liver, and Stomach
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What to Expect
Prior to Test
- Make sure you let the doctor know what medicines you are taking. Some medicines may need to be stopped or adjusted before the test. Your doctor may also suggest starting a new medicine.
- You will fast for 4-6 hours before the scan.
At the Hospital
- A healthcare provider will discuss your medical history and do a physical exam.
- Your doctor will review the purpose and description of the test.
- You will remove all jewelry and other metallic objects.
- You will change into a gown.
- You will be asked to use the bathroom before the test.
- You will be asked to sign an informed consent form.
Description of Test
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, a needle in a your vein. 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.
- Most people can resume normal activity, diet, and medicines after the test.
- Drinking additional fluids for two days will remove the tracer drug from your body. It is usually cleared within 6-24 hours.
- Always flush the toilet twice and wash your hands thoroughly for a few days following the test.
- Keep the injection site clean, dry, and protected. Look for signs of infection.
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
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.
American College of Gastroenterology
American Family Physician
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Mayo Clinic. HIDA Scan. Mayo Clinic website. Available at:
. Accessed April 16, 2010.
Van Leeuwen AM, Kranpitz TR, Smith L.
Davis's Comprehensive Handbook of Laboratory & Diagnostic Tests with Nursing Implications. Hepatobiliary scan. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center. Available at:
. Published January 1, 2006. Accessed April 16, 2010.
Venes D. HIDA scan.
Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center. Available at:
. Published January 1, 2005. Accessed April 16, 2010.