Liver gallium scan; Bony gallium scan
A gallium scan is a test to look for swelling (inflammation), infection, or cancer in the body. It uses a radioactive material called gallium and is a type of nuclear medicine exam.
A related test is gallium scan of the lung.
You will get gallium injected into your vein. Gallium is a radioactive material. The gallium travels through the bloodstream and collects in the bones and certain organs.
Your health care provider will tell you to return at a later time to be scanned. The scan will take place 6 to 48 hours after the gallium is injected. The test time depends on what condition your doctor is looking for. In some cases, people are scanned more than once.
You will lie on your back on the scanner table. A special camera detects where the gallium has gathered in the body.
You must lie still during the scan, which takes 30 to 60 minutes.
Stool in the bowel can interfere with the test. You may need to take a laxative the night before you have the test. Or, you may get an enema 1 to 2 hours before the test. You may eat and drink liquids normally.
You will need to sign a consent form. You will need to take off all jewelry and metal objects before the test.
You will feel a sharp prick when you get the injection. The site may be sore for a few minutes.
The hardest part of the scan is holding still. The scan itself is painless. The technician can help make you comfortable before the scan begins.
This test is rarely performed. It may be done to look for the cause of a fever that has lasted a few weeks without an explanation.
Gallium normally collects in bones, the liver, spleen, the large bowel, and breast tissue.
Gallium detected outside normal areas can be a sign of:
The test may be done to look for lung conditions such as:
There is a small risk for radiation exposure. This risk is less than that with x-rays or CT scans. Pregnant or nursing women and young children should avoid radiation exposure if at all possible.
Not all cancers show up on a gallium scan. Areas of inflammation, such as recent surgical scars, may show up on the scan. However, they do not necessarily indicate an infection.
Contreras F, Perez J, Jose J. Imaging overview. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 7.
Harisinghani MG, Chen JW, Weissleder R. Imaging physics. In: Harisinghani MG, Chen JW, Weissleder R, eds. Primer of Diagnostic Imaging. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 14.
Narayanan S, Abdalla WAK, Tadros S. Fundamentals of pediatric radiology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 25.
Seabold JE, Palestro CJ, Brown ML, et al. Society of nuclear medicine procedure guideline for gallium scintigraphy in inflammation.The Society of Nuclear Medicine. Version 3.0. Approved June 2, 2004. s3.amazonaws.com/rdcms-snmmi/files/production/public/docs/Gallium_Scintigraphy_in_Inflammation_v3.pdf. Accessed September 10, 2020.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/3/2020
Reviewed By: Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Health Content Provider
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2022 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.