Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Liver scan


Definition:

A liver scan uses a radioactive material to check how well the liver or spleen is working.

Alternative Names:

Technetium scan; Liver technetium sulfur colloid scan; Liver-spleen radionuclide scan; Nuclear scan - technetium; Nuclear scan - liver or spleen

How the Test is Performed:

The health care provider will inject a radioactive material called a radioisotope into one of your veins. After the liver has soaked up the material, you will be asked to lie on a table under the scanner.

The scanner can tell where the radioactive material has gathered in the body. Images are displayed on a computer. You may be asked to remain still, or to change positions during the scan.

How to Prepare for the Test:

You must sign a consent form. You will be asked to remove jewelry, dentures, and other metals that can the scanner's functions.

You may need to wear a hospital gown.

How the Test will Feel:

You will feel a sharp prick when the needle  is inserted into your vein. You shouldn't feel anything during the actual scan. If you have problems lying still or are very anxious, you may be given a mild medicine (sedative) to help you relax.

Why the Test is Performed:

The test can provide information about liver and spleen function. It is also used to help confirm other test results.

The most common use for a liver scan is to diagnose a condition called benign focal nodular hyperplasia, or FNH.

Normal Results:

The liver and spleen should look normal in size, shape, and location. The radioisotope is absorbed evenly.

What Abnormal Results Mean:
Risks:

Radiation from any scan is always a slight concern. The level of radiation in this procedure is less than that of most x-rays. It is not considered to be  enough to cause harm to the average person.

Pregnant or nursing women should consult their health care provider before any exposure to radiation.

Considerations:

Other tests may be needed to confirm the findings of this test. These may include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver flow study.
Most often, CT or MRI scans are used to evaluate the liver and spleen instead of a liver scan.
References:

Lidofsky S. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 20.

Lomas DJ. The liver. In: Adam A, Dixon A, eds. Grainger and Allison’s Diagnostic Radiology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 35.


Review Date: 1/13/2013
Reviewed By: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Liver scan

   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2014, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania