A gallium scan is a Reference nuclear medicine test. A nuclear medicine test uses a special camera to take pictures of specific tissues in the body after a radioactive tracer (radionuclide or radioisotope) makes them visible. Each type of tissue that may be scanned (including bones, organs, glands, and blood vessels) uses a different radioactive compound as a tracer. The radioactivity of a tracer decreases over a period of hours, days, or weeks. The tracer stays in the body until it is eliminated as waste, usually in the urine or stool (feces).
During a gallium scan, the tracer (radioactive gallium citrate) is injected into a vein in the arm. It travels through the bloodstream and into the body's tissues, primarily the bones, liver, intestine, and areas of tissue where inflammation or a buildup of Reference white blood cells (WBCs) Opens New Window is present. It often takes the tracer a few days to build up in these areas, so in most cases a scan is done at 2 days and again at 3 days after the tracer is injected. Areas where the tracer builds up in higher-than-normal amounts show up as bright or "hot" spots in the pictures. The problem areas may be caused by infection, certain inflammatory diseases, or a tumor.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference December 5, 2010|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology