Hepatobiliary (HIDA) test

What is this test

A HIDA test tells your doctor how your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts are working.

Your appointment

If you make any changes to your insurance before your test please call registration at 1-866-309-0832. This will help to prevent delays and the need to reschedule your test, as many radiology services need a preauthorization.

Take Elevator H or I to Level 3 to Nuclear Medicine.

If you have any questions or need to cancel your appointment call Nuclear Medicine at 1-319-356-1911.

You will need someone to drive you home after your test.

Getting ready for your test

Before your test, tell your doctor or nurse if:

  • You are pregnant, think you may be pregnant, or you are breastfeeding.
  • Were given barium for recent x-rays.


  • Do not eat or drink anything except for clear liquids for four hours before your test.
    • You can eat and drink as normal after your test.
  • If you have any other test that you were told not to eat or drink for a longer amount of time, follow those instructions.


  • Ask your doctor which medicines you should take before your test. You can take your needed medicines with a small amount of water before your test.
    • If your doctor ordered a quantitative scan, stop taking narcotic pain medicine 48 hours before your test.
  • Make sure to talk to your doctor if your child is having the test because of jaundice. They may need a medicine called phenobarbital for five days before their test. 

What to expect

Solid gastric emptying

  • The test will take one to two hours. If your doctor orders delayed pictures, it will take three to four hours.
  • During the test: 
    1. You will be given a medicine with a small amount of radioactive drug through a vein in your arm.
      • The level of radioactivity is very low.
      • There are no side effects.
    2. Pictures will be taken with a gamma camera
      • It is placed close to your stomach.
      • It does not put out radiation.
      • It is painless.
  • If your gallbladder does not show up in the pictures, you may be given a drug to help fill it up. If your gallbladder shows up in the pictures but does not empty, you may be given a drug to help it empty.
Last reviewed: 
August 2018

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