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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Liver and Spleen Scan
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A liver and spleen scan is a nuclear scan that is done to look at these organs for disease.
During a liver and spleen scan, a radioactive tracer substance is put into a vein (IV) in the arm. It moves through the blood to the liver and spleen. Areas of the liver and spleen where the tracer collects in large amounts show up as bright spots in the pictures. Areas where the tracer collects in low amounts or does not show up are seen as dark spots. The pattern in which the tracer spreads through the liver and spleen can help find cysts, abscesses, certain types of tumors, or problems with liver function.
Scans of the liver and the spleen are done at the same time.
A liver and spleen scan is done to:
If you are breastfeeding, you may want to pump enough breast milk before the test to get through 1 to 2 days of feeding. The radioactive tracer used in this test can get into your breast milk and is not good for the baby.
You will need to take off any jewelry. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes. You will be given a gown to wear during the test.
You will empty your bladder right before the scan.
The technologist cleans the site on your arm where the radioactive tracer will be injected. A small amount of the tracer is then injected.
You will lie on your back on a table, and a large scanning camera will be placed right above you. It may move slowly above and around your body, scanning for the tracer and recording pictures as the tracer moves into your liver and spleen. The camera does not give off any radiation, so you are not exposed to more radiation during the scan.
You may be asked to move into different positions so the tracer spreads through the liver and spleen. You need to lie very still during each scan so the pictures are clear. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly during some of the scans.
The test will take about an hour.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle in your vein, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. You may find it hard to lie still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan begins.
The results of a liver and spleen scan are ready in 2 days.
Normal amounts of the radioactive tracer are found in the liver and spleen. No areas of large or small amounts of tracer are seen.
The liver and spleen are normal in size, shape, and location.
The tracer pattern in the liver may show diseases.
The tracer pattern shows a cyst, an abscess, a collection of blood (hematoma), a lump made up of blood vessels (hemangioma), or a tumor.
The tracer pattern in the spleen may not be in the right place or may show spleen tissue that was missed during surgery to remove the spleen (splenectomy).
The liver or spleen may be enlarged because of a disease or may have an abnormal shape because a tumor is pressing against the organ.
Certain types of tumors may cause large amounts of tracer to collect in the liver or spleen.
Certain types of tumors may cause no tracer to collect in the liver or spleen.
Some conditions cause more tracer to show up in the spleen than in the liver.
Current as of:
September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineHoward Schaff MD - Diagnostic Radiology
Current as of: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff MD - Diagnostic Radiology
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