Procedure, Preparation & Side Effects of Cholecystogram

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Oral cholecystogram is the term used for an x-ray of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is an organ situated in the right side of the upper abdomen. It is situated near the liver and stores and releases bile, which aids in digestion.

Oral cholecystogram is a special x-ray, taken with the use of a special radio-active dye material, which is administered orally. It is done to check for diseases or cancer in the gall bladder. It specifically checks for inflammation, gallstones, cholesterol polyps (which are non-cancerous), and tumors.


The test is performed by a specialized x-ray technician, either in the doctor's clinic or in a hospital's radiology department, where the specialized equipment is available. 6 tablets have to be swallowed on the night before the oral cholecystogram test. These contain a special contrast medium, which helps to show better images of the gall bladder.

The next day, when you go to the hospital, you will be given a drink which is a special high-fat liquid. This causes the gallbladder to contract and release quantities of bile, which show up better on x-ray pictures. You will then have to lie on a special x-ray table. You will have to change position and turn from time to time, to aid better x-ray pictures. X-ray pictures will be taken at timed intervals, and will be shown up immediately on a TV monitor screen. The entire procedure takes about one hour.


The day before the test, you will have to eat a noon meal which is rich in high-fat, such as fatty meats, butter, milk and eggs. In the evening you will have to eat a low-fat meal such as vegetables, fruit, tea, coffee, bread and lean meat. A couple of hours after this, you will have to swallow the 6 contrast dye tablets, one by one. After this, you should not drink anything until the test is over.

Consult your doctor if you are pregnant, since the radioactive material may harm the fetus. Also inform your doctor if you have any allergies.

Side Effects

Since the test is not invasive it will not hurt. However, you may feel hungry and thirsty since you will not be allowed to eat anything for a considerable period of time.

Very few people develop any side-effects because of the radio-active dye. However, a few may suffer from diarrhea. Drink lots of water after the test to flush out the dye from your system.