Medical Definition of Scintigraphy

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Scintigraphy: A diagnostic test in which a two-dimensional picture of a body; the radiation source is obtained through the use of radioisotopes. For example, scintigraphy of the biliary system (cholescintigraphy) is done to diagnose obstruction of the bile ducts by a gallstone, a tumor, or another problem; disease of the gallbladder; and bile leaks. For cholescintigraphy, a radioactive chemical is injected intravenously into the patient. The chemical is removed from the blood by the liver and secreted into the bile that the liver makes. The chemical then goes everywhere that the bile goes: into the bile ducts, the gallbladder, and the intestine. By placing over the abdomen a camera that senses radioactivity, a picture of the liver, bile ducts, and gallbladder can be obtained that corresponds to the location of the radioactivity.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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