A gallium scan is a test used to find infections or tumors. Special pictures are taken after a medicine is injected into a vein. The medicine is called a radiopharmaceutical (a tiny amount of a radioactive liquid). The pictures show the medicine in the area of infection or tumor.
Before the Scan
Before coming to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen during the test to the best of your ability. For young children, use simple words and explain only shortly before the test.
If your child is under 5 years of age, they may have to sedated. Follow sedation instructions that the nurse or doctor give you.
Children 5 years and under may require sedation for their procedure. If sedation is necessary, a nurse or doctor will explain it to you. You will be given certain eating and drinking restrictions necessary to complete the exam. The day of the exam, a parent or guardian needs to be present to sign informed consent for sedation.
If your child is an infant, it is helpful to bring along a bottle of formula or juice with you for after the test. It is also recommended that you bring a pacifier, blanket or special toy to help calm your baby.
For older children, it is helpful to bring a book, toy or DVD to play with while waiting. It is helpful to have another caregiver for your child's siblings. For young children or babies, it is a good idea to bring a stroller.
During the Gallium Scan
A technologist will place a small needle called an IV into a vein in your child's hand or foot. The needle hurts for just a moment. When the needle is in, the medicine is injected into a vein.
After the injection, you and your child will return to the Nuclear Medicine Department in 72 hours for pictures. You may be asked to return sooner for pictures, possibly the following day. You may be given instructions on how to do a bowel preparation.
After 24 and/or 72 hours, you and your child will return to the nuclear medicine area, and the test will continue. Your child will need to lie still on a soft table while a special camera is used to take pictures from above and below. They may need a safety belt to help lie still. During this time your child may watch a DVD.
It will take at least one hour — and sometimes two hours — to take all of the pictures. During this time, the camera will not hurt or touch your child. You will be able to stay with them during the entire test.
It is possible that during the procedure they may experience some discomfort. Please tell the doctor, nurse or technologist if pain occurs.
After the Gallium Scan
The child eliminates the medicine from their body by urinating. Your child should drink plenty of fluids and urinate often to help clear it from their body. It should be completely out of their body within 24 hours.
As always, you and your child should wash your hands after they urinate or when handling urine-soaked diapers or sheets.
After the test, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. If they had sedation medicine, they will be monitored by a nurse in the recovery room until they wakes.
This amount of time is often unpredictable depending on the amount of sedation medicine given. It is common for children to sleep two hours after the medicine is given.
A nurse will give you special instructions. Results of the test will be available to your child's doctor within 24 hours.
Technology & Scanners
The pictures will be taken by a Siemens ECam. The open gantry design and feet-in imaging helps your child to feel more comfortable and allows her to watch a movie. The camera has two detectors, one which will be above your child and one which will be under them during the pictures.