Hida Scan

HIDA Scan: Definition, 5 Purposes, Preparation, How Does It Work, Risks and Side Effects

What is HIDA Scan?

Cholecystography, also known as Hepatobiliary or HIDA scan, is a nuclear scanning method to examine liver, bile and bile duct functions. The procedure is performed by injecting and checking the movement of the monitoring device through the scanner.

A wide variety of conditions can adversely affect liver function and bile, which can then lead to a wide range of health problems, including blockages. This condition can be recognized through HIDA scans.

HIDA scan purpose

HIDA scans can be used to diagnose problems with the gallbladder, how the liver secretes bile, and the flow of bile as it leaves the liver and enters the small intestine. X-rays and abdominal ultrasound can also be performed in conjunction with HIDA. Some conditions that may be diagnosed or evaluated with this test include:

  • Biliary atresia or other congenital bile duct conditions
  • Leakage or complications of the biliary system (such as fistulas)
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)
  • Blockage of the bile ducts
  • Liver transplant post assessment

HIDA scan preparation

HIDA scanning involves several special preparations:

  • Fast for four hours before your HIDA scan. Your doctor may allow you to drink clear fluids.
  • Tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you are taking.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Once you arrive at your local hospital or medical imaging center, your imaging technician will ask you to:

  • Change into hospital gown
  • Remove all jewelry houses and other metal accessories before the procedure.

How does Hida Scan work?

Before carrying out the cholescintigraphy, doctors and nuclear radiologists will conduct a series of examinations and monitoring of the patient’s medical records. It aims to regulate cholescintigraphy examinations and ensure that patients are eligible for the scanning procedure. Patients who are in pregnancy are not allowed to take this examination.

Patients are also recommended to adjust or discontinue other treatments, as this may reduce the accuracy of test results. If the patient follows the barium enema procedure four days in advance, the HIDA scan will be delayed for several days.

The examination procedure begins by injecting radioactive substances through the infusion pathway into the veins and absorbed by the body. Radioactive substances act as a medium of monitoring the state in the body. If the patient is a child, usually the doctor will give a sedative substance, because children tend to be fussy when following this kind of procedure.

Then, the patient is asked to lie down on a special table and the doctor will take pictures of the liver, bile, bile ducts, and surrounding organs using a gamma scanner that moves forward and backward over a period of time. Patients will also be asked to consume fat-rich foods during the screening procedure, but this is done depends on the purpose of the examination.

Once the procedure is complete, the resulting image will be collected and given to the doctor who then explains the results to the patient.

This check process can run for up to 2 hours or more.

HIDA scan risks and side effects

HIDA is a nuclear medicine test, and this type of test is not usually performed on pregnant women. Therefore, if there is a possibility of getting pregnant, women should inform their doctor or radiology staff before undergoing the test. Women should also tell their doctor if they are breastfeeding, as this may also affect the decision to undergo this test

The risk of HIDA scanning is mostly related to trackers or medications given to complete the test. The risk of HIDA scanning is low, but may include:

  • Allergic reactions to substances used during tests (which are rare)
  • Bruising, rash, or swelling where trackers are injected
  • Small exposure to radiation


Last Updated on September 30, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team