Skip to main content

HIDA scan

A diagnostic test to examine the function of your biliary system

Patient being prepared for a HIDA scan to examine the function of his liver and gallbladder
A HIDA scan, also known as a cholescintigraphy, is a diagnostic imaging test that uses a radioactive tracer to examine the function of your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts. It involves injecting a tracer into your bloodstream to track how it moves around your body. A private HIDA scan can be an important tool for diagnosing and treating a range of health concerns, including gallbladder disease, liver disease, and bile duct blockages.

If you're experiencing symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting, a HIDA scan can help identify the underlying cause. It can also assess the function of your gallbladder or to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for certain liver or gallbladder conditions.

At Circle Health Group, we offer private HIDA scans with state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained specialists. Our team will ensure that you receive the best possible care and support throughout the entire process.

For more information on a HIDA scan or other diagnostic scans, book a consultation with one of our specialists. If you have been advised to book a HIDA scan directly, give us a call.

A HIDA scan is typically used when you have symptoms that point to a problem in your biliary system. This includes your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts. Symptoms might include:

  • Upper right abdominal pain
  • Abdominal discomfort after eating
  • Nausea or vomiting after eating
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained fever
  • Gallstones or suspected bile duct obstruction
  • Suspected inflammation or infection of the gallbladder or bile ducts.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention promptly. Our specialists can quickly and easily refer you for a HIDA scan to start diagnosis and uncover the cause of your symptoms.

There are several conditions that a HIDA scan can help to diagnose, including:

Gallbladder disease

If you have symptoms of gallbladder disease such as abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, a HIDA scan can help your doctor to diagnose the condition. The test can also be used to evaluate the function of your gallbladder if you are considering surgery to remove it.

Biliary atresia

Biliary atresia is a rare condition that affects infants. It is a blockage of the bile ducts that can lead to liver damage. A HIDA scan can be used to evaluate the function of the liver and bile ducts in infants who may have biliary atresia.

Liver disease

A HIDA scan can be used to evaluate the function of the liver and bile ducts in people with liver disease, such as cirrhosis.


Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. A HIDA scan can be used to evaluate the function of the pancreas and bile ducts in people with pancreatitis.

Your doctor will determine if a HIDA scan is appropriate for your particular condition based on your symptoms and medical history. If you have any concerns or questions about the procedure, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.

If you have a referral letter for a HIDA test, give our team a call and they can help you to get booked in for the test.

Otherwise, you will need to book in for an initial consultation with one of our experienced specialists, who can consider your condition and judge whether a HIDA scan is right for you.

During this consultation, your specialist will usually start by asking about your symptoms, medical history and any medications you are currently taking. They might need to perform tests or scans to get a better understanding of your condition. These tests may include a blood test, ultrasound, or other imaging tests.

If your consultant feels a HIDA scan is necessary to understand your condition, they can get you booked in for one without delay.

A HIDA scan usually takes around one to two hours to complete. However, the exact time can vary depending on factors personal to you.

In general, a HIDA scan does not require anaesthetic. However, some people do feel anxious or claustrophobic during the procedure, in which case your care team may provide a mild sedative to help you relax.

During a HIDA scan, you will be asked to lie down on a table, and we will inject a radiotracer into your bloodstream. The radiotracer will travel through your bloodstream to your liver, where it will be excreted into your bile ducts. A special camera will be used to track the movement of the radiotracer as it passes through your bile ducts and into your small intestine.

The camera will take images of your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts, which will allow your consultant to assess how well your liver and bile ducts are functioning. We may ask you to move into different positions during the scan to ensure that we image all areas of your liver and bile ducts.

Recovering from a HIDA scan

Most patients can return to their normal activities immediately following a HIDA scan. However, it is important to drink plenty of fluids after the procedure to help flush the remaining radiotracer out of your body. Your healthcare provider will provide specific instructions on what to do following your scan.

If you experience any unusual symptoms after your HIDA scan, such as pain, fever, or nausea, contact your healthcare provider immediately. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

Like any medical procedure, a HIDA scan carries some risks. These may include:

  • Allergic reaction: While it is rare, some people may experience an allergic reaction to the radioactive dye used in the scan
  • Infection: Although uncommon, there is a slight risk of infection at the site of injection
  • Radiation exposure: The amount of radiation you're exposed to during a HIDA scan is very small. However, if you're pregnant or think you might be, it's important to let your doctor know beforehand

It's important to understand the potential risks associated with any medical procedure, including a HIDA scan. Your consultant will explain everything you need to know about the procedure, including any potential risks, so that you can make an informed decision about your healthcare. If you have any concerns or questions about the procedure, don't hesitate to ask your consultant. They are there to help you every step of the way.

We answer some of your most commonly asked questions about HIDA scans.

Can I drive after a HIDA scan?

Yes, you should be able to drive after a HIDA scan. It is a non-invasive procedure that does not require any sedation or anaesthetic. However, you may want to have someone else drive you home if you feel any discomfort or drowsiness after the test.

Does a HIDA scan hurt?

No, a HIDA scan is a painless procedure. You will be required to lie still on a table while the scan is performed, but you should not feel any discomfort.

How much does a HIDA scan cost?

The cost of a HIDA scan can vary depending on your location and the healthcare provider you choose. At Circle Health Group, we offer affordable pricing for all our services, including HIDA scans. You can contact us to get a quote and discuss payment options.

Is a HIDA scan safe?

Yes, a HIDA scan is a safe and routine diagnostic procedure. It is a non-invasive test that does not use ionising radiation or carry any significant risks.

What does a HIDA scan show?

A HIDA scan is a diagnostic imaging test that is used to evaluate the function of your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. The test can show whether your gallbladder is functioning properly and whether there are any blockages in the bile ducts.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard and delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about HIDA scans, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in March 2023. Next review due March 2026.

  1. HIDA Scan, Cleveland Clinic
  2. What Is a Gallbladder Scan?, WebMD
  3. Gall bladder (HIDA) scan, NHS Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
  4. What Is a HIDA Scan?, Healthline
  5. What you should know about the HIDA scan, Medical News Today
  6. Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid Scan, NIH
  7. HIDA Scan (Gall-bladder), NHS Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
  8. Nuclear Medicine CCK Hepatobiliary (HIDA) Scan, NHS East Sussex Healthcare

Specialists offering Hida (hepatobiliary) scan

{{ error }}