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What is a gallbladder HIDA scan?

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According to Mayo Clinic, a HIDA scan is a hepatobiliary scan that is helpful to diagnose liver, bile duct and gallbladder disease. The name of the scan comes from the tracer that was first used called hydroxy iminodiacetic acid. In modern medicine, more effective tracers are utilized in the imaging scan than hydroxy iminodiacetic acid.

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A HIDA scan is done by injecting a radioactive chemical, called a tracer, into a patient's vein. This tracer is treated the same way that bile is treated in the liver and lights up on the imaging system. The imaging system "sees" the tracer as it goes from the liver to the gallbladder and through the intestines. If there are problems with how the tracer moves through the system, the problems show up on the scan and give helpful information on the state of health of the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts, according to Mayo Clinic.

Some of the medical conditions that are diagnosed with a HIDA scan include blockages, gallbladder disease or dysfunction, inflammation and obstructions. After the diagnosis, treatment can be assessed and started. The HIDA scan carries a risk of bruising, rash and allergic reaction. Those with a radioactive tracer allergy should not have a HIDA scan, notes Mayo Clinic.

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