Gallbladder radionuclide scan

What is Gallbladder Radionuclide Scan?

A Gallbladder Radionuclide (Gallbladder RNS) scan is a noninvasive nuclear medicine test used to detect any abnormalities in the anatomy of the gallbladder and its associated structures, including the bile ducts, the cystic duct, and the gallbladder itself. It can also identify any gallstone-related complications and help to diagnose hepatobiliary abnormalities.

Preparation for the Scan

Prior to the scan, patients should inform their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, if they have allergies to any medications or foods, and if they are taking any medications. Patients should also refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least one hour prior to the test.


In order to prepare the gallbladder for the scan, an IV containing the radiopharmaceutical will be administered. The patient will then be asked to lie on a special imaging table with a bedside monitor. The radiologist will use a probe to measure the radiation concentration and to assess the size and position of the gallbladder. The test typically takes between 15 to 30 minutes.

Types of Gallbladder Radionuclide Scan

There are two main types of Gallbladder RNS scans: Dual-Isotope and Single-Isotope. In Dual-Isotope scans, a mixture of two radiopharmaceuticals is used. This enables the radiologist to measure both hepatobiliary circulation and bile flow. In Single-Isotope scans, only one radiopharmaceutical is used. This is used to measure the function of the gallbladder and to detect any abnormalities.

Risks of Gallbladder Radionuclide Scan

The radiation exposure from Gallbladder RNS scans is very low and poses no serious risks. However, in rare cases, it may cause nausea, vomiting, or allergic reactions. Additionally, the IV administration may cause minor pain or swelling.

Why Gallbladder Radionuclide Scan is Done

Gallbladder RNS scans are done to diagnose or monitor a wide range of gallbladder disorders, including infection, inflammation, blockages, and stones. It can also help to detect any complications of gallbladder surgery. In addition, this test is used to assess any changes in the size and shape of the gallbladder that could indicate cancer.

When it is Done

Gallbladder RNS scans are typically ordered by a physician when other methods, such as ultrasounds, fail to provide a sufficient diagnosis. The test may also be ordered in cases where a patient has a history of gallbladder problems or any complications of gallbladder surgery.