Gallium Scan

Gallium Scan

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive chemicals or drugs to diagnose and treat disease. These radioactive drugs are substances that are attracted to specific organs, bones or tissues. The drugs used in nuclear medicine give off gamma rays, which can be detected outside your body by special cameras called gamma cameras. These cameras work together with computers to create images that provide information about the area of the body being imaged.

What is a Gallium Scan?

You have been scheduled for a Gallium Scan. This study involves the use of a small amount of radioactive material to show areas of infection and inflammation as well as certain types of cancer within your body. The level of radioactivity used is extremely low and has no side effects.

What is the procedure?

The Gallium Scan is a 2-part study. It involves an injection on the first visit, followed by imaging 2 days later.

Visit 1 (No patient preparation needed)

INJECTION – On your first visit a small amount of radioactive material will be injected into a vein in your arm. After you check in, the technologist will explain the test to you and answer any questions you might have. The injection itself will only take about 15 minutes.

Visit 2 (2 days after the injection)

PATIENT PREPARATION - During your first visit, you will be given a laxative that you will need to take the evening before you are scheduled to return. You may eat a normal dinner and breakfast prior to your arrival.

IMAGING -- Depending on the reason for the test, your scan will take between 1 and 3 hours. You will be positioned next to a special detector called a gamma camera and images will be taken for 1 hour.  A second set of images may then be performed in another scan room with a special gamma camera called a SPECT camera. This will take approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours.

The images will then be shown to a radiologist to determine if the scan is complete.  After looking at your pictures, the radiologist may decide that you need to come back the following day for additional pictures. Please make arrangements so that this will be possible if necessary.

What must be done prior to the scan?

All patients are to check in at the Radiology Department Reception Area located on the first floor of the University Hospital at the designated appointment time. You may want to allow extra time for parking.

Your procedure may involve the use of a drug that is specially ordered for your test. If you are unable to keep this appointment for any reason, we ask that you call our Scheduling Office at (434) 924-9400 at least 24 hours prior to your appointment if possible. If you are going to be late, please let us at the same number.


For any questions or concerns

Contact the Radiology and Medical Imaging department at 434-924-9400.