Lung gallium scan

Lung Gallium Scan: Overview

A lung gallium scan is a type of imaging test that is used to diagnose diseases of the lungs, including infection, cancer, and inflammatory diseases. The scan uses a radioactive isotope of gallium, which is injected into the bloodstream. The isotope accumulates in areas of inflammation, infection, and tumors and is seen with a special type of camera. The lung gallium scan can provide accurate images of lung tissue to help doctors diagnose and stage lung diseases.


Before the scan, you will need to go through a preparation process. Your doctor will likely recommend that you:

  • Stop taking certain medications before your scan
  • Limit your activity the day before your scan
  • Avoid certain foods before the test
  • Follow any additional instructions from your doctor


The procedure for a lung gallium scan is relatively simple and noninvasive. You will be asked to lie on a table and the gallium isotope will be injected through an IV line into your arm. The isotope will travel through your bloodstream to your lungs, where it will emit a small amount of radiation. You will then be asked to change positions so the camera can take different images of your chest.


There are different types of lung gallium scans that can be used to diagnose different kinds of lung diseases. The most common types of scans are:

  • Gallium-67 Scan: This scan is used to diagnose infection and inflammation in the lungs.
  • Gallium-68 Scan: This scan is used to diagnose cancerous tumors in the lungs.


Lung gallium scans have few risks involved. The radiation exposure is minimal and most people don’t experience any adverse reactions to the scan. However, pregnant women and people with kidney or liver problems should talk to their doctor about the risks of having a gallium scan before having the procedure.

Why it’s Done

Lung gallium scans are done to diagnose diseases of the lungs, such as infection, cancer, and inflammatory diseases. The scan is especially useful for diagnosing pulmonary infections and can help doctors differentiate between bacterial infections and viral infections. It can also be used to help guide treatments for cancer or lung inflammation.

When it’s Used

Lung gallium scans are typically used when other tests, such as chest X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, can’t provide a definitive diagnosis. The scan is often used if a doctor suspects that a patient has an infection or cancer in the lungs, or if a patient is showing symptoms of an inflammatory lung disease.