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    Gallium scan

    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 isa type of nuclear medicine exam.

    A related test is gallium scan of the lung.

    How the Test is Performed

    You will get aradioactive material called gallium injectedintoyour vein. 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 - 24 hours after the gallium is injected. The test time depends on what condition your doctor is looking for.

    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 - 60 minutes.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Stool in the bowel caninterfere with the test. You may need to take a laxative the night before you have the test. Or, you may get an enema 1 - 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 alljewelry and metal objects before the test.

    How the Test Will Feel

    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.

    Why the Test is Performed

    This test may be done tolook for the cause of afever. It is used most often to look for a cancer of the lymph system called lymphoma.

    Normal Results

    Gallium normally collects in bones, the liver, spleen, the large bowel, and breast tissue.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    Gallium detected outside normal areas can be a sign of:

    • Infection
    • Inflammation
    • Tumors, including Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

    The test may be done to look for lung conditions such as:

    • Primary pulmonary hypertension
    • Pulmonary embolus
    • Respiratory infections, most often pneumocystitis jirovecii pneumonia
    • Sarcoidosis
    • Scleroderma of the lung
    • Tumors in the lung


    There is a small risk of radiation exposure (less than with x-rays or CT scans). Pregnant or nursing womenand young children should avoid radiation exposure if at all possible.


    Not all cancers show up on a gallium scan.


    Segerman D, Miles KA. Radionuclide imaging: general principles. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone;2008:chap 7.

    Vinnicombe SJ, Reznek RH. Reticuloendothelial disorders: lymphoma. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone;2008:chap 72.


    • Gallium injection


      • Gallium injection


      Self Care

        Tests for Gallium scan

        Review Date: 11/9/2012

        Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, 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 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- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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