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Liver and Spleen Scan- Why Do You Need a Proactive Approach to Liver Diseases

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A liver-spleen scan on your doctor’s prescription report can cause your forehead to wrinkle in worry.


Does the doctor suspect a serious ailment? Are you showing early symptoms of liver diseases? Could it be that your health has succumbed to the adversity of a diseased organ?

Well, ease up. A liver-spleen scan is neither scary nor worry-worthy. It’s a functional radiology test that the doctors use to take a good look at your liver and access how sound or poor liver function is.

Why Did the Doctors Ask You to Get a Liver-Spleen Scan?

The fundamental principle behind ordering a liver scan is to monitor the organ’s condition. If your right upper abdomen quarter pains for no apparent reason, or if there has been a recent trauma to the area, this scan can reveal any internal damages.

Also, the test can help doctors find out if you have hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, alcoholic liver disease, abscesses, tumours, cysts, portal hypertension, etc. In a shell, a liver-spleen scan helps in accessing the liver failure stages or the overall health of the organ.

How Does a Liver Scan Work?

It’s a nuclear medicine procedure. A radioactive tracer called radionuclide is injected into one of your veins. The tracer reaches your liver and spleen where it gets absorbed and travels through the organ, all the while emitting a tiny amount of gamma radiation. This radiation is captured by a gamma camera, processed, and presented as a 3D image of the liver.

A ‘hot spot’ is created in a part of the organ where the radionuclide is absorbed in larger amounts. This part appears brighter on the scan as opposed to the ‘cold spots’ which are dim and thus conclusive of less radionuclide absorption.

The radionuclide behaviour is measured and assessed by the doctors to determine the state of the liver. Diseases, list of abnormalities, organ function, and blood circulation are checked for using this assessment.

What Are the Risk That You Stand to Face?

Since the test involves a radioactive tracer, your worry is reasonable. However, the tracer contains a tiny amount of radionuclide, thus eradicating any need for precaution or concern. Allergic response to the radionuclide is rare but treatable.

The procedure could be anywhere between 20-45 minutes long. If lying on your back for so long is an issue for you, make sure the radiologist knows so. Also, inform your radiologist and doctor about any allergies you have, for instance, medications, latex, dyes, iodine, etc.

If you suspect being pregnant, are breastfeeding, lactating, have had a liver scan or barium procedure in past few months, or have any medical conditions, mention them to the doctor just to be safe.

See- Nothing to Worry About

A liver-spleen scan is wrapped up within an hour. You aren't retained in the clinic. You are allowed to resume usual activities, diet, and work in most cases. The only exceptions are special cases where allergies or other specific factors are involved.

While you don’t have to do much, it does pay to keep an eye on yourself for a day or two following the scan. If you feel dizzy, or the IV area has grown red and swollen, call the doctor.

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