Hepatobiliary Scan (HIDA)
The Hepatobiliary Scan (also called HIDA scan) uses a small amount of injected radioactive tracer (radiopharmaceutical) and a gamma camera to examine the function of the gallbladder and the liver. Its main use is to diagnose gallbladder inflammation or blockages in the bile ducts.
Before your procedure
What to bring
- Your referral form
- Any relevant previous imaging
- Your Medicare card and concession cards
- Your medication if you are diabetic
A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.
You should have nothing to eat for eight hours before the time of your appointment but may drink small amounts of water. We need you to avoid fasting for too long, so be sure to have an evening meal on the day before a morning appointment. For an afternoon appointment, a light, early breakfast eight hours prior to the examination time is recommended.
If you are a diabetic please discuss this with us before you appointment.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
During your procedure
What to expect during my procedure
When you attend your appointment at Lake Imaging you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc, then change into an examination gown.
The technologist will explain the procedure, position you for the scan and then inject a radioactive tracer into an arm vein. Imaging starts immediately, and you may breathe normally but must try not move. Initial imaging takes 45 to 60 minutes while the tracer passes through the liver and into the gallbladder.
You will then be given a meal replacement drink (“Ensure Plus”) to stimulate the gallbladder. Several more images will be taken after a 30 minute delay to show the rate at which the gallbladder empties.
Occasionally, delayed images may need to be taken up to three hours later.
The gamma camera is a large square radiation detector which sits close to the area being examined. In some cases it will rotate around you. You will experience no unusual sensations or discomfort from the scan.
The images may be combined with a low dose CT (Computed Tomography) scan performed at the same time on the same scanner. This combination of SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information provided, and adds only a few minutes to the procedure time.
Please allow up to 4 hours for the full Hepatobiliary 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. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.
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.