Liver scintigraphy

What is it?

It is an examination that allows to study the liver through the intravenous administration of a radiopharmaceutical that fixes in the cells of the reticulo-endothelial system, allowing the morpho-structural evaluation of the liver parenchyma.

When is this exam indicated?

Liver scintigraphy is performed in cases of:

  • chronic hepatopathies, to look for irregular hepatic morpho-structural fixation of the radioactive tracer and possible vicarious bone and splenic uptake;
  • cirrhosis, to evaluate possible structural damage;
  • hepatic angioma: it appears as an area that does not take up the fixative (cold area) that at the following scintigraphic examination with red blood cells labeled with Tc-99m takes the character of hot area;
  • neoplasms: present as cold areas.

Using the SPET technique increases the sensitivity of the investigation.

How is it performed?

The examination is performed by administering venously a radiopharmaceutical consisting of sulfide-colloidal, Tc-99m-labeled pertechnetate. The exam takes about 20 minutes and requires no preparation.


There are no known contraindications or side effects, but interference with some chemotherapeutics should be avoided, because they can cause hepatic inhomogeneous distribution of the tracer with accentuated visualization of the spleen and bone marrow.

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