Being told that you need any type of medical examination can be stressful, but a liver scan doesn’t have to be a reason to panic. Today we’re looking at what a liver scan is, what to expect and how to prepare so you can go to your check up feeling comfortable and well informed.
Put simply, a liver scan is a procedure that is used to assess the function of the organ and identify any conditions or concerns. It falls under the umbrella of diagnostic procedures and is generally quick and painless with the process being over in less than an hour. The procedure involves injection of a tracer liquid into the patient’s body, following which, the process is essentially carried out autonomously by the appropriate medical equipment.
As noted above, your general practitioner may request a liver scan if they feel that there is a need to diagnose or monitor any conditions or concerns that relate to the organ. This could be due to swelling or enlargement of the area, screening for diseases such as hepatitis, cancer or cirrhosis, or simply to check how everything is functioning in that area of your body. This does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong, simply that further investigation is required. Diagnostic procedures are performed all of the time with happy results so this is not cause to panic. Your doctor will inform you if there are any precautions that you should take until an examination has been completed.
Preparing for your procedure is fairly straightforward. Your radiologist will check whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding and ensure that you are not allergic to anything that you will be exposed to during your liver scan. As long as none of these instances are relevant to your situation, there will be very little that you will need to do to prepare. As a general rule, you are able to eat and drink normally in the lead up to your diagnostic procedures, if fasting is required, your general practitioner or radiologist will notify you in advance. All jewellery and piercings must be removed prior to the procedure and you will most likely be asked to change into a patient gown. If there are any other preparations required, they will be specific to your personal situation, this may be the case if you are undergoing other tests during the same time period. Your doctor will always notify you of any requirements well before the day of your procedure and as long as you follow their orders, everything should go smoothly.
When you first arrive for your procedure, you will be asked to remove anything from your person that could cause interference with the diagnostic equipment used. You will then most likely be provided with a gown and asked to change, this is nothing to be concerned about and is only required as certain types of clothing could block proper testing. Once you have changed into your gown, an IV drip will be inserted to inject the tracer fluid. This fluid will be left to circle within your body and settle in the tissue of the appropriate organs to ensure that it is easily visible to the diagnostic machine. From here, it is simply a matter of laying still until the process is completed. If different views of the area are required, your radiologist may ask you to move in order to facilitate this but otherwise you’ll simply lay on the examination table and allow the machine to do its job. Once your liver scan is complete, the IV will be removed and you will be able to get changed. Your radiologist will ensure that you are not suffering any adverse effects and as long as you feel well, you’ll be free to go about your day as normal unless your doctor has specified otherwise.
A liver scan, while possibly scary, is an important diagnostic tool, hopefully this article has helped you feel more comfortable with the process.