Gallium scans

A gallium scan is a diagnostic imaging test that shows a functional image of body tissues. The images show how cells are performing- normally or abnormally- and to what degree.

Gallium, a radioactive isotope compound, is injected into the vein in the arm. This “tracer” is attracted to infections and some tumors in the body. The special nuclear radiology camera picks up images from areas where gallium is absorbed, indicating irregular function of the cells.

How to prepare

There is no special preparation for a gallium scan. Gallium is not known to cause any side effects or adverse reactions with food or drugs. You should continue taking your prescribed medication.

What to expect

When you arrive at the nuclear medicine area at the Imaging Center, a technologist will inject the gallium “tracer” into a vein in your arm. You will return to the Center in 1-3 days once the gallium has been absorbed. You can be scanned any time during the 3 days following your tracer injection.

When you return, you will lie on the exam table positioned between a set of cameras. The cameras will be very close to your body. If you are claustrophobic, you should ask your physician for a prescription to help you relax.

The imaging portion of the exam can last 30-90 minutes. It is very important that you remain still while the cameras are moving.

What happens to the radioactive material?

Most of the radioactive material will be eliminated in your urine or stool. The rest will simply disappear over a brief period of time.


You can resume your normal activities immediately after the test.


A doctor who has specialized training in nuclear medicine will interpret the gallbladder images. A report will be dictated and sent to your doctor. It usually takes 1-2 days for your physician to receive the results.

Contact your doctor’s office for results.