A liver scan is a specialist radiology treatment that is often recommended when there is a need to determine whether or not the liver is functioning properly or not.

They can also be used to track the course of treatment for certain disorders. It’s also sometimes used to look at the spleen, because it’s near the liver and performs similar functions.

How do they work?

Liver scans involve a radiological process. During a liver scan, a miniscule amount of radioactive material is used to aid in the evaluation of liver function. In order to create the radioactive substance, known as a radiopharmaceutical or a radioactive tracer, one must first add an atom of radioactive material (radionuclide) to a molecule that can be absorbed by healthy liver cells. Spleen and bone marrow take in the remaining radioactive material.

Technetium is the most common radionuclide utilised in liver scans. The radionuclide releases gamma radiation when it is absorbed into liver tissue. Using a scanner, an image of the liver is created when the gamma radiation is identified.

It is possible for a doctor to examine and diagnose numerous disorders by observing the behaviour of the radionuclide in the body while doing a nuclear scan. Organ function and blood flow can be evaluated with a liver scan as well.

“Hot spots” are the places where the radionuclide accumulates in the most concentrated form. “Cold spots” are the parts of the body that don’t absorb the radionuclide and appear darker on the scan image.

Abdominal X-rays, abdominal ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT scan) of the abdomen or the liver, or a liver biopsy may also be used to diagnose liver disorders.

About the liver

Liver scan doctor

In terms of mass, the liver tops the list of organs. Abdominally, the aorta is a dark reddish brown organ that sits on top of the right kidneys and intestines and lies behind the diaphragm.

There are two primary lobes to the wedge-shaped liver. Thousands of lobules make up each lobe. Hepatic duct is formed by small ducts that join to bigger ducts, which in turn produce the lobules. To the gallbladder and duodenum, the liver cell-produced bile is transported by the hepatic duct. Blood clotting, digestion, and bile production are only few of the functions of the liver.

The left side of the body’s spleen, an egg-shaped organ located between the stomach and diaphragm, aids in blood purification. For example, the spleen helps to produce white blood cells that fight infection and sickness, as well as to break down red blood cells.

What can a liver scan reveal?

Checking for disorders like liver cancer, hepatitis B, or cirrhosis can be done with the type of test. A live function test may reveal abnormalities such as tumours, abscesses, or cysts in the liver or spleen. A liver function test may be performed to determine the health of the liver and/or spleen following abdominal trauma or when there is unexplained abdominal pain. A liver scan may reveal an enlarged liver or spleen.

When determining whether or not a patient’s treatment for liver illness is working, a test may be performed as well. When the radionuclide is absorbed by the spleen rather than the liver, portal hypertension (increased blood pressure within the liver’s circulation) can be detected by a the scan.

It is possible that your doctor has additional reasons for ordering a liver scan.

What happens after?

For the first 24 hours after the operation, you may be told to drink a lot of water and urinate regularly to flush out any lingering radionuclides from your body.