(Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid Scan; Gallbladder Scan; Hepatobiliary Imaging; Biliary Tract Radionuclide Scan; Hepatobiliary Scintigraphy; Cholescintigraphy; HIDA [a technetium-99m disopropyl analogue] Scan)
by Deanna M. Neff, MPH
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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Reasons for Test TOP
This test is done to:
This test is not done on patients who are pregnant.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare. Some may have an allergic reaction to tracers used in the scan. Talk to your doctor about any allergies you have.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Test
At the Hospital
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. 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.
After Test TOP
How Long Will It Take? TOP
Will It Hurt? TOP
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.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Gallbladder scan. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:
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Accessed September 30, 2014.
HIDA scan. Memorial Health Care System website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Published October 2006. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2014
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