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What is a HIDA Scan?

A HIDA scan is an exam of the gallbladder, liver and the hepatobiliary system (the ducts connecting the gallbladder to the liver and the small bowel). This exam requires the use of a radiopharmaceutical through an IV catheter.

Prior to the exam:

Your child should not receive barium (radiographic contrast agent) 24 hours prior to the HIDA scan.

Your child may not have morphine or morphine derived medications for 24 hours prior to the scan.

Your child must not have anything to eat or drink for 4 hours prior to the scan (2 hours for babies under 6 months old).

We have a large variety of video entertainment to choose from, however, your child can also bring along his/her favorite DVD to watch during the exam.

Note: Parents/guardians will be allowed to accompany their child into the exam room.

When you arrive:

You must check in to Imaging Registration, on the first floor of the Benjamin Russell Building 45 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment in order to register.

Once the registration process is completed, a technologist will greet you and escort you to the nuclear medicine examination room. 

During the exam:

A technologist will place an IV in your child’s arm, hand or foot in order to administer the radiopharmaceutical (tracer) injection needed for this exam.
Your child will only feel a little discomfort, like a mild pinch. Once the child has proper IV access, the procedure can begin.

The technologist will inject the tracer through the IV line. A set of images will be taken, and the scan will last approximately 1 hour. Your child will have to lie still during the imaging portion of the test. After viewing the initial images, the nuclear medicine physician may determine that additional images are needed.

Delayed images may be necessary for up to four hours after the initial images, and in certain circumstances, possibly 24 hours.


Your child's physician may order a HIDA scan with CCK (cholecystokinin); a hormone produced in the body.  If the 1 hour images explained above, show normal flow of the radiopharmaceutical a dose of CCK will be given to your child through the IV previously placed, during a 5 minute period. The CCK will cause the gallbladder to contract. We will take images during the injection of CCK and continue for about 30 minutes after the dose is complete. During that time we are able to measure the rate at which the gallbladder empties, and determine if emptying is normal.

After the exam:

There are no special instructions for your child to follow upon completion of this procedure.

Test Results:

The images from your child's exam are interpreted by a pediatric radiologist and a report is sent to your physician's office.

If your physician has any questions regarding the report, he/she may call 205-638-9730.

Question or concern about your child’s exam?