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Hepatobiliary Scan – WR Pediatric Imaging Procedure

What is a hepatobiliary scan?

A hepatobiliary scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that outlines the liver and shows the flow of bile from the liver through the hepatic ducts (including the gallbladder), emptying in the small bowel.

Why would my doctor request a hepatobiliary scan?

A hepatobiliary scan can help:

  • Assess abnormalities in liver function
  • Diagnose cholecytitis
  • Evaluate upper abdominal pain
  • Determine causes of jaundice
  • Identify obstruction in the gallbladder or blockages of the bile duct
  • Detect biliary atresia

How to prepare for a hepatobiliary scan?

You/your child must not eat or drink beginning 4 hours before the scan. Infants less than 6 months of age being evaluated for biliary atresia or neonatal hepatitis can eat and drink as normal. It is important to not have had any barium studies within 48 hours prior to exam. In newborns, pre-medication with phenobarbital is commonly used to enhance the flow of bile by the liver. Your child may bring a security blanket/toy with him/her to hold during the procedure.

How is a hepatobiliary scan performed?

You will be greeted by one of our technologists who will explain to you and your child what will happen during the examination. A small amount of radiopharmaceutical called Technetium-99m DISIDA is injected into one of you/your child’s veins and imaging will begin immediately. After one hour of imaging, a pediatric radiologist will determine if additional imaging is needed. If so, you/your child may need to drink a substance called Lipomul, which is a standard fatty meal. The fatty meal will stimulate the gallbladder to contract and imaging will begin for another 30 minutes. Additional images may be necessary at various other times depending on the results of the previous images and the condition under evaluation. It is important that you/your child remain as still as possible during all imaging to obtain the best quality images.

What can be expected during the procedure?

You/your child may experience some discomfort associated with the insertion of the intravenous needle. The needle used for the procedure is small. Once the radiopharmaceutical is injected, the needle is withdrawn and a gauze bandage with adhesive tape is placed over the site of the injection. The area where the injection was given may be a little sore.

Although the camera may appear large and intimidating, it does not touch you/your child.

What happens after the study?

Once the study is complete, it will be evaluated for quality. If there was too much motion, the study may need to be repeated. If there was no motion, you/your child will be free to leave and resume normal activity.

Badges of Honor

Wake Radiology is proud to have received the highest accreditations possible from the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Learn more about our accreditations!


Wake Radiology technologists have earned the highest certifications possible.

highest-certfication-possibleAll Wake Radiology technologists:

✔ are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)

✔ have graduated from an accredited radiology program

✔ have the technical expertise needed to obtain high quality images & deliver exceptional patient care

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