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About Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine exams image bodily function rather than anatomy.

They can be useful in finding problems that are not obvious by looking at the structure of an organ or tissue. This is done with the use of small amounts of radioactive materials, also known as tracers. Each tracer is designed to be attracted to specific organs or types of body tissue. Special cameras that can map the distribution of the radioactive tracer create images which are studied by radiologists.
Nuclear medicine scans are very safe. Nuclear medicine has been used in newborns and children for more than four decades and even longer in adults. There are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose exams.

About Hepatobiliary (HIDA) Scans

A hepatobiliary (HIDA) scan is a nuclear medicine exam in which the patient receives an injection of a radioactive tracer that is taken up by bile-producing cells. The injection is followed by a scan of the gallbladder, liver, and bile ducts. Often a drug (Kinevac) will be given as part of the scan to see how strongly the gallbladder contracts. Alternatively if the gallbladder cannot be seen, then another drug (morphine) may be given to attempt to see the gallbladder.
HIDA scans are most commonly used to identify the following:

  • Closed bile ducts
  • Bile leak after surgery or trauma
  • Gallbladder inflammation (acute or chronic cholecystitis)
  • Other causes of abnormal liver function
  • It may also be performed on babies to determine the cause of jaundice.

Exam Locations

The exam is performed at the following Radiology Imaging Associates partner hospitals in the Denver, Colorado area:

  • Medical Center of Aurora
  • Littleton Adventist Hospital
  • Porter Adventist Hospital
  • Sky Ridge Medical Center
  • Swedish Medical Center
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