Published: May 16, 2007
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
What is a gallium scan?
A gallium scan is a test that uses a radioactive medicine to locate the source of inflammation in your body, such as from an infection or tumor.
Why is it ordered?
Doctors use this test:
What should my health care professional know before I have this test done?
Where is this done?
This test is done in the radiology department at Duke University Hospital.
What happens during the procedure?
The test requires two visits to the radiology department. The first visit will be to inject the radioactive medicine into a vein in your hand or arm. The second visit will be to scan the entire length of your body to detect the radioactive medicine. During the scan, you will be asked to lie on your back while a camera moves around your body. It is important that you lie still during this test for a clear picture to be taken.
Do I need to do anything to get ready for this test?
No special preparations are needed before this test. The radiology technologist will tell you when to come for the second visit for the scan. Before the scan is performed, you will be asked to remove any jewelry or clothing that would be in the way of the picture. You will be given a drape or hospital gown to cover yourself while the pictures are being taken.
Is this test painful?
You may feel a brief sting when the radioactive medicine is injected into your arm. You will not feel anything when the camera takes a picture during the scan. However, you may be asked hold several positions that may be uncomfortable so that the technologist can get a good picture.
How long does it take?
The first visit to inject the radioactive medicine will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes depending on the conditions of your veins. The scan generally takes 60 minutes.
What are the risks with this procedure?
A gallium scan is a very safe test. The radioactive medicine has a very short half-life and will be undetectable in your body after two to three weeks.
Do I need to have someone drive me home afterward?
You will not need to have someone drive you home unless your doctor has directed you otherwise.
How will I get the results of this test?
The radiologist will interpret the scan and send the result to your doctor. Your doctor or health care provider will discuss the results with you.
This article is intended as a resource for patients receiving their cancer care at Duke University Hospital or Duke Clinic. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice from your health care team. If your doctor’s instructions differ from the information in this article, please talk with your doctor before making any changes.