Procedure & Side Effects of a Cholescintigraphy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The liver produces a number of different substances that are used for the processes of the human body. Enzymes and hormones produced by the body determine the functioning of various important body systems. One such enzyme is bile, a substance that is used to help break down food as it passes into the duodenum. Bile is a yellowish colored liquid that is secreted by the bile ducts. The quantity of bile produced by the liver during a given period of time is insufficient for the requirements of the digestive process.

The liver therefore produces bile continuously, even when the individual is not digesting any food. This bile is secreted and collected in the gallbladder. The gallbladder stores bile until digestion is taking place. It then releases the bile it has stored along with the bile that has been produced in the liver. This combination of bile is enough to handle the food that has been consumed.

What Is Cholescintigraphy?

Cholescintigraphy is a medical procedure used to track the movement of bile in the body. The liver, being a complicated and multifunctional organ, also filters the blood for a number of different waste substances. Some of these may be mixed with the bile.

During the cholescintigraphy process, a radioactive dye is injected into the body of the patient. The blood that contains this dye then passes to the liver which removes the dye. The dye is then mixed in with the bile and passed out towards the gallbladder.

Once this happens, the cholescintigraphy procedure moves to its seconds stage which is the stage of scanning. Scanning takes place to track the location of the dye and its movement. If the dye collects in the bile ducts, then it is assumed that there is a blockage in these ducts. Such a blockage will diminish the rate of bile flow and may cause digestive distress. Such a blockage may also cause hyperbilirubinemia, a condition where there is too much bilirubin in the blood. A cholescintigraphy hida scan is also commonly conducted in many individuals.


In preparation for a cholescintigraphy procedure, the patient has to avoid consuming food for up to 12 hours before the test. The duration of the fast depends on the doctor's requirements. Usually, they cholescintigraphy test is conducted in the morning so that the patient has fasted through the night while he or she is asleep.

Side Effects

There are usually no major cholescintigraphy side effects. In some very rare cases, patients may react to the dye substance if they are hyper allergic.