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Gallium Scan

Patient Preparation

No special preparation required.

Exam Procedure

A gallium scan usually requires three visits to the Nuclear Medicine Department. On the first day, the patient will receive an injection into a vein in their arm. This visit should take about fifteen minutes and the injection will cause no more discomfort than having blood drawn.

Next, they will be scheduled to return for imaging between one and four days later, depending on the clinical indication. Imaging may involve several close-up views, whole body scanning, or tomography, with the patient usually lying still on an imaging table.

A gallium scan is done to:

  • Detect the source of an infection that is causing a fever (called a fever of unknown origin).
  • Detect an abscess or certain infections, especially in the bones.
  • Monitor the response to antibiotic treatment.
  • Diagnose inflammatory conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis or sarcoidosis.  
  • Detect certain types of cancer (such as lymphoma). A gallium scan also may be done to see if cancer has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body, or to watch how well a cancer treatment is working.


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