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Gallium Scan

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What do I need to know about a gallium scan?

A gallium scan is a test to find growths, or areas of infection or swelling in your body.

How do I prepare for a gallium scan?

Ask your healthcare provider if you can take your usual medicines before your test. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you increase the amount of liquid you drink 24 hours before your test. If a scan of your liver will be taken, you may be asked to have only clear liquids 24 hours before your test. You may also need an enema 1 to 2 hours before the test, depending on the type of scan you have.

What will happen during a gallium scan?

Gallium is injected into a vein, usually in your hand or arm. Gallium is a radioactive substance that is used as a tracer in this test. The tracer will travel through your bloodstream and collect in certain areas of your body. This will allow your healthcare provider to see these areas more clearly. You may be asked to return at 6, 24, 48, and 72 hours after the injection. The times depend on the type of test you will have. A camera moves slowly over and around you as you are lying down. It takes pictures of the areas where the gallium has collected. Do not move unless healthcare providers ask you to change positions. Each scan takes 30 to 60 minutes.

What will happen after a gallium scan?

You will need to drink 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of liquid each day for 2 days after this test. This will help flush the tracer out of your body.

What are the risks of a gallium scan?

The place where the injection was given may become red, swollen, or painful. Some types of cancers do not show up on a gallium scan. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not have this test. The fetus or baby can be exposed to a small amount of radiation from the tracer used during these tests. Rarely, you may have an allergic reaction to gallium. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include itching, hives, rash, a tight feeling in your throat and shortness of breath.

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 healthcare providers 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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Further information

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