Biliary Scan

A Biliary Scan evaluates the biliary system and your gallbladder.

A biliary scan is a nuclear medicine test. It uses a small amount of a radiopharmaceutical (radioactive tracer) to check your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts – the parts of the biliary system.

Please remember to bring your requesting letter and any recent X-rays or CT scans. At the time of your appointment, report to North Shore Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, located on the ground floor of North Shore Private Hospital in Westbourne Street, St Leonards.

Pain medications containing morphine should be ceased prior to the scan. Check with your doctor to see how long you should be off them for. It is usually about 24 to 48 hours. All other medications can be taken.

You should fast for at least four hours prior to the commencement of the test.

The test is usually not performed in pregnant women, so please inform us before the test begins if you know that you are (or think you might be) pregnant.

You will receive two scans for this procedure. You will be lying down for about an hour while the camera takes pictures for the first one. Then you will be asked to wait for 45 minutes (as your gall bladder continues to fill) and drink a high-calorie nutritional drink. Then you will lie down again to receive the second scan, which takes about 30 minutes.

After the test procedure is explained to you, a needle will be placed into a vein in your arm. You will be given an injection of a small amount of a radioactive compound. A specialised camera is then used to take scans of your upper abdomen. In some cases, injecting a substance that usually contracts the gallbladder (CCK) is required, and imaging is continued for another 30 minutes.

There are no side effects or reactions from the HIDA injection. The injection does NOT contain iodine and is safe to give if you have had a previous allergic reaction to X-ray contrast injections. If you require the CCK injection, you may notice some nausea, abdominal pain or belching. If this occurs, it generally lasts less than 10 minutes. There are, however, no serious side effects with the CCK injection. Although you will be required to keep still during the scan, the procedure is entirely painless. There is no need to hold your breath during the test.

In general, the scans and results are sent to your doctor the next working day. Depending on the type of scan you are having (and the clinical urgency), you may be able to take the scan with you in some cases, however, there will be a delay while the report is typed.

You can drive home after the scan. You will not be drowsy in any way.

If you have any questions, please phone North Shore Radiology and Nuclear Medicine on (02) 8425 3684. We will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.

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