HIDA Scan- Uses, Procedure, What to Do, What to Avoid, Side-Effects

Patients who have acute cholecystitis are needed to diagnoses through a sophisticated diagnostic machine— HIDA Scan (Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid Scan).

In this post, we discuss its facts, why it is done, procedure, results, cost, side effects, and some frequently asked questions that users ask on google.

So let’s begin the topic with a small introduction.

What is a HIDA Scan?

What is a HIDA Scan?

A HIDA scan is nothing but an imaging machine that paints the clear images of the gallbladder, bile ducts, small intestine, and liver. Cholescintigraphy or Hepatobiliary Scintigraphy are the other names of hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan.

In this scan, a radioactive tracer is injecting into the person’s veins. The radioactive tracer moves through the blood vessels into all the body parts which include gallbladder, bile ducts, etc.

However, a special camera is used by the doctors to take pictures and pass it over to the computer screen for further observations.

Quick Facts About HIDA Scan

These are some of the facts that are related to the HIDA scan:

  • A person should have to avoid food or any other supplement for 4 to 12 hours before the scan.
  • Scans are done for getting images of the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts system, etc.
  • Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding firstly consult with your doctor before the scan.

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Why the HIDA Scans are Performed?

Application 1: It is used to measure the following:

  • Check whether the liver’s bile-secretion function is working properly or not.
  • To measures the rate of gallbladder ejection fraction.
  • Find out the cause of pain on the right side of the abdomen.
  • To evaluate the outcome of a liver transplant.

Application 2: To diagnose the following disease and conditions:

  • Blocking of the bile duct
  • Reveal the cause of jaundice or yellow fever, either obstruction or abnormal functioning.
  • To check bile leaks which are abnormally connected between two organs.
  • Biliary atresia, when one or more bile ducts are abnormally narrowed or blocked.
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder

However, doctors may also use X-rays and ultrasounds with HIDA scans to confirm disease or conditions.

How to Prepare For a HIDA Scan?

How to Prepare For a HIDA Scan?

1. Fasting: Before starting the HIDA scan, a person has to avoid food or any other supplement for at least 4 to 12 hours. However, in some cases, patients may be allowed to drink some fluids before the scan but only after consulting with your doctor.

2. Medication: In the majority of cases, doctors provide a special medicine, a few days before the scan as it will help to get better images of your organs.

3. Follow Doctor’s Instructions: Before this scan, you should share information like your prior medication, diet-plan, and supplements with your doctor. For example, a person who takes a medicine called Pepto-Bismol which contains bismuth could affect the results values.

4. Pregnant Women: If you’re pregnant, then doctors might refuse to prescribe this scan because it increases the risk to the fetus.

5. Breastfeeding Women: In the case of breastfeeding women, the doctor advised avoiding breastfeeding to their infants for some days. This is done to ensure that the radioactive tracer has left the mother’s body completely.

Step-by-Step Procedure For HIDA Scan

Procedure For HIDA Scan

Before the Test

It is compulsory to wear a hospital gown during the HIDA scan. Moreover, you have to avoid food supplements for 4 to 12 hours but you can drink some water, lemonade during that period of fasting.

During the Procedure

These are the following procedure for the HIDA scans:

  1. The person will lie down on the table during the whole scan.
  2. After that, a specialist inserts a tracer via the person’s arm. At that time, the person might feel a cold sensation.
  3. Meanwhile, a technician put a gamma camera over the person’s stomach to capture images and also to control tracers particles.
  4. The tracer moves through an IV line into the blood vessels and then it travels to the liver where the bile duct, gallbladder, and small intestine absorb these tracers.
  5. However, the process usually takes 60-90 minutes for completion. But, it could take up to four hours.
  6. All the findings are then transferred to the radiologist’s computer screen.

If the doctor is not satisfied with the images of the scan, they may undergo a second scan within 24 hours.

Note: During the HIDA scan, if anyone experiences any problem at any stage, it should be immediately reported. In spite of this, the patient should regularly take deep breathing.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, the first thing as a patient you should do is drinking plenty of water. This will speed up the elimination process of radioactive tracers through urination and bowel movements.

What to Expect from Result?

The HIDA scan’s result states five major pointers;

1. Normal: From the liver, if the radioactive tracer is moved into the gallbladder and small intestine freely, then it will be the case of normal functioning.

2. Slow Movement: If the tracer takes too much time to move throughout the body, this suggests that there is a blockage in the gallbladder or in the bile tube which indicates low functioning of the liver.

3. Not Present: If the radioactive tracer doesn’t show any sign in the gallbladder, it indicates a sign of acute cholecystitis.

4. Low Gallbladder Ejection Fraction: A low value (30 to 40%) of GBEF shows the person has gallbladder inflammation or some gallbladder disorder or a sign of chronic cholecystitis.

5. Radioactive Tracer in other parts of the body: If the images show signs of radioactive tracer outside of your liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and small intestine, then you may have a leak in your body’s biliary (bile) system.

Risks and Side-Effects

Risks and Side-Effects

These are some of the risk and side effects of the HIDA scan. These are some potential risks;

  • Allergic Reactions: Some medication reacts to people during the scan.
  • Bruising: Some bruising may occur at the site of the injection.
  • Exposure to Radiation: People who undergo through HIDA scan procedure, have to suffer from radiation side-effects, even it is very minimal.

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A HIDA scan is a very useful test that helps to diagnose the liver, bile ducts, and small intestine. It has a radioactive tracker that moves through the body bile system.

Before the scan, every person has to take a fast for at least t 4 to 12 hours. And women in their pregnancy should first consult the doctor about all the side effects of this scan on the fetus.

However, the common side effects that the majority of patients have; exposed to radiation, and bruising in the tracer injected area.

However, the result of the HIDA scan is categorized under five broad categories. But major categories are normal, slow movement, not present, and Low gallbladder ejection fraction.

Now, with this, our topic ‘HIDA Scan’ has been completed. Now, following are the some frequently asked questions that users are asking on google.

General FAQs

How long does the HIDA scan take?

Ans. A HIDA scan usually takes 60-90 minutes but it could take up to four hours.

Can I drive after a HIDA scan?

Ans. Yes, you can. In fact, you can do what you do on a daily basis, only if you weren’t administrated with some sedatives during the test. In that case, avoid any work, even driving.

How much HIDA scan cost?

Ans. The pricing of HIDA scans varies from region to region and country to country. But as per Healthcare Bluebook, it can cost you around $1,200.

How long does Radioactive Tracker stay in your system?

Ans. It depends on your body functions. Most of them recovered on a normal day and most of them take 24 to 48 hours. And if you drink more water the excretion process even fastens up.

Can I drink water before a HIDA scan?

Ans. Before the HIDA scan, do not eats anything before four hours. But you can drink water. This will make your gallbladder ready for the scan. But before 1 hour, even water should be avoided.

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