Gallium Scan

A Gallium Scan is a form of nuclear medicine that uses a small amount of radioactive tracer (radiopharmaceutical) and a gamma camera to search for and locate areas of infection and inflammation.

The most common uses for Gallium Scans are to diagnose infected joint replacements, and identifying sites of infection elsewhere in the body.

Gallium scans involve two to three visits over several days.

Before your procedure

What to bring

  • Your referral form
  • Any relevant previous imaging
  • Your Medicare card and any concession cards


A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.

You may eat and drink normally up to and during the Gallium Scan procedure. It is helpful if your bowel motions are normal for abdominal and whole body scans.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment or scan days, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.

During your procedure

What to expect during my procedure

On your first visit to Lake Imaging a technologist will explain the Gallium Scan procedure and inject the gallium tracer into an arm vein. You are then free to go home and resume normal activities, returning at the next appointment time, which is usually 48 hours later.  This first scanning session lasts about one to one and a half hours while we map the distribution of tracer in the area of interest, which may be either a localized area or the whole body.

Occasionally, we may need more images three days (72 hours) after the first appointment, but can only determine this after the first set of images is complete.

The gamma camera that takes the images during this examination is a large square radiation detector which sits close to the area being examined. It also rotates around the body while acquiring images (SPECT). You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scanning process.

The images may be combined with a low dose CT (Computed Tomography) scan done at the same time on the same scanner. This combination of SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information obtained, and adds only few minutes to the procedure time.

Please allow around one hour for each visit during the Gallium examination.

Risks and side effects

Nuclear medicine examinations are considered very safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.

Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of gamma radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Lake Imaging you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.

If you are worried or concerned about having a Nuclear Medicine study you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination.

If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination.

For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:

Who will perform and report my examination

At Lake Imaging your examination will be carried out by a Nuclear Medicine Technologist who has a degree in Medical Radiation Science and is accredited by the ANZSNM.  

Your images will be reviewed along with your relevant medical history, and any other imaging, and be reported by our Nuclear Medicine credentialed radiologist or Nuclear Medicine physician (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of Nuclear Medicine studies).

After your procedure

What to expect after my procedure

Radiation from the injected isotope diminishes to a very low level by the end of the procedure, and you are free to resume normal activities immediately. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions after the procedure.

How do I receive my results?

If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Lake Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.

Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.