Liver and Spleen Scan
A liver and spleen scan is a nuclear scan that is done to look at these organs for disease.
During a liver and spleen scan, a radioactive tracer substance is put into a vein (IV) in the arm. It moves through the blood to the liver and spleen. Areas of the liver and spleen where the tracer collects in large amounts show up as bright spots in the pictures. Areas where the tracer collects in low amounts or does not show up are seen as dark spots. The pattern in which the tracer spreads through the liver and spleen can help find cysts, abscesses, certain types of tumors, or problems with liver function.
Scans of the liver and the spleen are done at the same time.
Why It Is Done
A liver and spleen scan is done to:
How To Prepare
Before your liver and spleen scan, tell your doctor if you:
You will empty your bladder right before the scan.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
You will need to take off any jewelry. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes. You will be given a gown to wear during the test.
The technologist cleans the site on your arm where the radioactive tracer will be injected. A small amount of the radioactive tracer is then injected.
You will lie on your back on a table and a large scanning camera will be placed right above you. It may move slowly above and around your body, scanning for the tracer and recording pictures as the tracer moves into your liver and spleen. The camera does not give off any radiation, so you are not exposed to more radiation during the scan.
You may be asked to move into different positions so the tracer spreads through the liver and spleen. You need to lie very still during each scan so the pictures are clear. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly during some of the scans.
A liver and spleen scan takes about 1 hour.
How It Feels
You may feel nothing at all from the needle in your vein, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. You may find it hard to lie still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan begins.
Allergic reactions to the radioactive tracer are rare. Most of the tracer will be passed from your body (through your urine or stool) in a day. Be sure to flush the toilet right away and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to prevent anyone else from being in touch with the tracer. The amount of radiation used in the scan is so small that people can be in contact with you following the test.
In some cases, you may develop soreness or swelling at the injection site. Try putting a moist, warm pack on your arm.
There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level radioactive tracer used for this test.
A liver and spleen scan is a nuclear scan that is done to look at these organs for disease. The results of a liver and spleen scan are ready in 2 days.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
What To Think About
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.