Hydroxy Iminodiacetic Acid Scan

What is it?

A hydroxy iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan is a test to show how your liver and gallbladder work. HIDA is the name of the medicine that you will receive for this scan. The gallbladder is a sac that holds bile coming from the liver. Bile is used to help digest (break down) fats that you eat. The gallbladder, liver, bile duct (tube), cystic duct, and common bile duct are parts of the hepatobiliary system. Another name for this test is a cholescintigraphy (koh-lee-sin-TIG-rah-fee).

Why do I need a HIDA scan?

A HIDA scan may be done to find out if your body is rejecting a transplanted liver. It may also be done to look for one or more of the following medical conditions:

  • Abdominal (belly) pain.

  • Abnormal shape of some part of your biliary system, such as biliary atresia (ah-TREE-zhah). This is when one or more parts of the biliary system are absent or did not develop (grow) correctly.

  • Cancer of the hepatobiliary system.

  • Cholelithiasis (koh-lee-li-THEYE-ah-sis), which are gallstones.

  • Cholecystitis (koh-lee-sis-TI-tis), which is an infected gallbladder.

  • Cysts that cause bile to leak, or cause abnormal ducts to form.

  • Liver disease.

  • Obstructed (blocked) ducts. When ducts are blocked, bile cannot flow correctly through your biliary system.

Who should not have this test?

Tell your caregiver before the test if you might be or are pregnant. Caregivers may suggest waiting to have the test until after your baby is born. Tell caregivers if you are breast feeding. They may suggest waiting to have the test until after you have finished breast feeding your baby. This should be done to prevent your baby from getting any of the radioactive tracer.

What do I have to do to get ready for the HIDA scan?

Do not eat or drink anything for four hours before the test. Do not fast (stop eating and drinking) the day before the test. Some pain medicines may change the results of the test. Tell your caregiver about all medicines that you take. You may need to stop taking one or more of your usual medicines before the test.

How is a HIDA scan performed?

  • Your caregiver will tell you what time to come to the Nuclear Medicine department where the scan is performed. Remove jewelry and other metal objects, and put on a hospital gown. Caregivers may weigh you. An IV (intravenous line) will be placed into a vein, usually in your hand or arm. A substance called HIDA, which is a radioactive tracer, is put into the IV.

  • A caregiver will position the camera above your stomach, and take pictures every five to 15 minutes. These pictures will be taken for one to two hours after you receive the IV medicine. More scans may be taken at two, four, six, and 24 hours after the IV medicine is given. After each scan, caregivers look at the pictures and decide if you need more scans. You will be told when to return to the department if more scans are needed.

What will I feel during the scan?

You may feel discomfort when the IV is put in your vein. The scan itself is not painful, but you may be uncomfortable lying still during the scan. Caregivers may offer you medicine that may help you to lie still.

What should I do after the scan?

You may continue activities, eat, drink, and take your usual medicines just as you did before the test. The tracer is not harmful. It becomes non-radioactive within hours after it is given. The tracer leaves your body within one or two days through your urine. Your caregiver may tell you to flush the toilet three times after going to the bathroom. This makes sure that the small amount of tracer that leaves your body does not stay in the toilet bowl.

What do the results show?

Normally, the HIDA material (tracer that you are given) goes into the liver, leaves the liver through the bile ducts and goes into the cystic duct. This leads into the gallbladder. Then the HIDA material moves into the common bile duct so it can move into the small intestine. Finally it leaves the body in BMs. If there is something blocking a duct, the HIDA material will stop flowing through it. A gallstone or a tumor may cause this blockage. This test shows caregivers where the blockage is. The results of a HIDA scan can help caregivers know whether or not you need surgery. If you need surgery, caregivers will help you prepare for it.

What are the risks of having this test?

The place where your IV was could bleed, become red, swollen, painful, or infected. If you do not have a HIDA scan, caregivers may not be able to decide what would be the best care for your health condition. Your condition could get worse. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your medicine or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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