What is a HIDA Scan?

HIDA scan looks at the function of the liver and gallbladder.


You must be fasting for at least 4hrs but not longer than 12hrs prior to the study.

If you are diabetic or if you take regular prescription medicine that needs to be taken with or after food, please contact us to discuss how to prepare for the examination.

Please be punctual for your appointment as the tracer is manufactured to be injected at the stated time on your appointment letter.


If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is essential that you let us know before your appointment date. If you are a female of child bearing age (12-55 years old), you will be asked about your pregnancy and breastfeeding status. If you are unable to confirm you are not pregnant a pregnancy test may be performed.


All patients are entitled to have a chaperone present for any consultation, examination or procedure where they feel one is required. This chaperone may be a family member or friend. On occasions you may prefer a formal chaperone to be present (ie. trained member of staff).

The examination

Upon your arrival a radiographer will explain the procedure to you and will ask you a few questions about your health records. You will then have a cannula inserted into a vein in your arm.

After this you will be taken into the scan room and positioned on the scan table with the camera placed above your abdomen. Once in position you will have a small amount of radioactive tracer injected through the cannula. This is carried through the bloodstream to your liver and gallbladder and then excreted into the bowel.

Immediately after injection the first set of imaging begins which takes 1 hour. It emits gamma rays which will be detected by a piece of equipment called a gamma camera.

This is a very quiet machine and you do not go through a tube or tunnel.

Halfway through the procedure, the images acquisition will stop and you will be given a fatty drink like hot chocolate. After you have the drink the abdominal images acquisition will re-start for another hour. The drink encourages the gallbladder to contract and acquiring images while the gallbladder is contracting provides our doctors with more information relating to your liver and gallbladder function.

You do not need to undress for the examination, but you may need to remove metal objects from your clothing or pockets, such as coins and/or belts as these will interfere with the quality of the pictures.

How long will it take?

The entire exam will take approximately 1 – 2hrs.

Who will be present?

Your scan will be performed by a Nuclear Medicine trained member of staff which stays with you in the room while scanning. In addition we might have students in our department, and they will observe the procedure if you give your permission.

Can I bring a friend or relative with me?

You can bring a friend or relative with you and they may accompany you for the injection or scan. Because our waiting room is very small, we would prefer that you do not bring more than one person with you. It is advisable NOT to have a pregnant woman or any children with you. This is to avoid exposing them to unnecessary radiation.

Will the injection hurt?

The injection is similar to having blood taken. It will not make you drowsy or prevent you from driving a car.

Is radioactivity dangerous?

The amount of radiation involved is similar to that from an x-ray examination. The radioactivity naturally disperses from the body and is largely gone in 24 hours. The very low risk involved is balanced against the benefit of the information the examination provides for your doctors.