A gallium scan is a test to look for swelling (inflammation), infection, or cancer in the body. It uses a radioactive material called gallium and is a type of
A related test is
Liver gallium scan; Bony gallium scan
How the test is performed
You will get a radioactive material called gallium injected into your vein. The gallium travels through the bloodstream and collects in the bones and certain organs.
Your health care provider will tell you to return at a later time to be scanned. The scan will take place 6 – 24 hours after the gallium is injected. The test time depends on what condition your doctor is looking for.
You will lie on your back on the scanner table. A special camera detects where the gallium has gathered in the body.
You must lie still during the scan, which takes 30 – 60 minutes.
How to prepare for the test
Stool in the bowel can interfere with the test. You may need to take a laxative the night before you have the test. Or, you may get an enema 1 – 2 hours before the test. You may eat and drink liquids normally.
You will need to sign a consent form. You will need to take off all jewelry and metal objects before the test.
How the test will feel
You will feel a sharp prick when you get the injection. The site may be sore for a few minutes.
The hardest part of the scan is holding still. The scan itself is painless. The technician can help make you comfortable before the scan begins.
Why the test is performed
This test may be done to look for the cause of a fever. It is used most often to look for a cancer of the lymph system called lymphoma.
Gallium normally collects in bones, the liver, spleen, the large bowel, and breast tissue.
What abnormal results mean
Gallium detected outside normal areas can be a sign of:
Hodgkin’s diseaseor non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
The test may be done to look for lung conditions such as:
Respiratory infections, most often pneumocystitis jirovecii pneumonia
Sclerodermaof the lung
Tumors in the lung
What the risks are
There is a small risk of radiation exposure (less than with
Not all cancers show up on a gallium scan.