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HIDA stands for hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid. A HIDA scan is considered nuclear medicine because of the use of a radioactive tracer to perform the diagnosis. Nuclear medicine uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose, and sometimes treat, diseases of the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. Radiotracers are usually, but not always, given to a patient in the form of an intravenous injection. Images of where the radiotracer is in the body and how long it stays there are made using a special camera called a nuclear medicine gamma camera. These cameras work in conjunction with computers to form images that provide data and information about the area of the body being imaged. The images generated can show if organs are working properly or not depending on if the radiotracers are absorbed by different tissue types, and at what rate or concentration they are absorbed. If you are in need of testing or treatment for diseases of the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts, then contact GI Alliance to learn more about a HIDA scan.

A hepatobiliary scan is a nuclear medicine procedure that demonstrates gallbladder function. Prior to the exam, you will be asked to have nothing by mouth for 4 hours before the study and no pain medication on the day of the study. You will be injected with a small amount of radioactive tracer. The injection of a radioactive substance into a vein in your arm is similar to having blood drawn; it may be uncomfortable. You may feel pressure or a cold sensation. The scan is painless. While lying flat on the table, the camera will be positioned over your chest and abdomen. Periodic images will be taken. It is important that you lie as still as possible. Depending on your gallbladder function, this study can take anywhere between one and four hours.

Your physician may order a gallbladder emptying study. This procedure starts the same as the hepatobiliary scan. Then, CCK, an enzyme, is given to stimulate your gallbladder to empty. You might experience some cramping or nausea. This should disappear within approximately 10 minutes. Additional images will be taken to see how your gallbladder contracts.

Nuclear medicine procedures are very safe. A nuclear medicine examination carries no greater risk than a standard x-ray procedure. The test requires only very small doses of radiation, often less than a conventional x-ray procedure. You will not feel anything from the radioactive substance itself and side effects or adverse reactions are very rare. If you have additional questions about what to expect with a HIDA scan, please contact your GI Alliance physician.

If you or a loved one has been told they need a HIDA scan, you may feel a little intimidated at first. Rest assured, these procedures are very safe and our team at GI Alliance will take a patient-centric approach to help you feel comfortable during your HIDA scan. When you entrust your care to GI Alliance, you trust the nation's leading physician-led network of expert gastroenterologists. Contact your local GI Alliance to learn more about the HIDA scan and other innovative techniques used by our skilled doctors.

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