Preparing for your exam:
Nothing by mouth 4 hours prior to your exam
No smoking or chewing gum 4 hours prior to your exam.
During your HIDA scan
You may be asked to change into a hospital gown before your HIDA scan begins. Your health care team will position you on a table, usually on your back. A medication is then injected into a vein in your arm.
The medication contains a radioactive tracer that travels through your bloodstream to your liver, where it’s taken up by the bile-producing cells. The radioactive tracer travels with the bile from your liver, into your gallbladder and through your bile ducts to your small intestine.
You may feel some pressure while the radioactive tracer is injected into your vein.
As you lie on the table, a special gamma camera passes back and forth over your abdomen taking pictures of the tracer as it moves through your body. Each picture takes about a minute. The gamma camera takes pictures continuously for about an hour.
You’ll need to keep still during the HIDA scan. This can become uncomfortable, but you may find that you can lessen the discomfort by taking deep breaths and thinking about other things. Tell your health care team if you’re uncomfortable.
Your doctor will watch the scan’s progress on a monitor as the radioactive tracer moves through your body. The HIDA scan is stopped when the radioactive tracer enters your small intestine. This typically takes about an hour.
If the radioactive tracer isn’t seen in your small intestine, you may receive a medication and undergo more scans later in the day.
After your HIDA scan
In most cases you can go about your day after your HIDA scan. You’ll likely still have some of the radioactive tracer in your body. The substance will leave your body through your urine over the next day or two. For this reason your doctor may ask that you:
- Flush the toilet twice after urinating
- Wash your hands thoroughly after you urinate
- Drink water throughout the day to help flush the radioactive tracer from your body