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A doctor shows an anatomical, reduced model of the liver
By - Allen

Everything You Need To Know About A Liver Scan

You may be told by a medical professional that you need to get a liver scan. If you aren’t sure what to expect, then you are not alone, liver scans are fairly common scans and they are safe and performed very regularly. A liver scan is a type of radiology method, which is used to look closer at the liver.

The scan can help identify various conditions as well as see how the liver in functioning in general. You may also get a liver scan to follow how certain treatments are going. During the liver scan a very small amount of a radioactive substance is used, as this will help conduct a proper view of the liver.

If you want to know more about a liver scan and the process from start to finish, have a read below:

Why Would You Need a Liver Scan?

There are many reasons why your doctor would recommend a liver scan. The main reasons for a liver scan is to check for certain diseases, like; liver cancer, cirrhosis or hepatitis. Things like tumors, cysts, abscesses on the liver or even the spleen (because the two are very close to each other) can be viewed on a liver scan.

Another reason why you may need to get a liver scan would be after a certain trauma to the abdomen, to see what the condition is of the liver, or if you have unexplained pain in your abdomen. Even things like the enlargement of the liver or the spleen can be seen through a liver scan.

As was touched in the introduction, a liver scan can also be done to check how certain treatments are going. For example if you have liver disease and are currently getting treatment for it, a liver scan will help shed some light on how your liver is reacting to the treatment.

What are the Risks?

While there is radionuclide injected into your vein, the amount is small enough that you don’t need to take precautions against the radioactive exposure. There may be minor discomfort, and allergic reactions tend to be rare.

It is important that if you are pregnant, or think you are pregnant, you let the health professional know. Like with any medical procedure, there are risks, and if you have underlying health conditions, you need to let the doctors know before getting the liver scan.

What Happens During the Scan?

Doctor examining the liver of a male patient by doing a liver scanA liver scan is usually a relatively quick procedure and can be done as an outpatient event, so you can leave the same day you came in, or as a procedure during your time at the hospital. Each procedure will tend to differ, depending on the individual, but generally speaking the process is as follows.

You will need to remove objects that could interfere with the scan and put on a gown. An IV line will be done in your arm or hand and then the injection will take place. The radionuclide will be concentrated in your liver tissue for around 30 minutes. It is important you stay as still as you can, to provide a quality scan.

A scanner will be positioned over the upper right area of your abdomen and you could be asked to reposition throughout the scan, to get different views of the liver. After the scan is completed, the IV will be taken out. There is no pain in the scan itself, but the necessity to lie still for extended periods of time could cause pain, especially if you are getting a liver scan to due sustaining injuries.

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