Gallium 67 lung scan

Alternative names
Lung gallium (Ga.) scan; Lung scan; Gallium scan - lung; Scan - lung

This is a type of nuclear scan involving radioactive gallium, which helps determine whether a patient has inflammation in the lungs.

How the test is performed

Gallium is injected into a vein. After about 6 hours for an acute (active) infection, or 24-hours for a chronic problem, the scan will take place. You lie on a movable table that will be positioned under the scanner (gamma camera). The camera detects the gamma rays emitted by the gallium.

The information is then transmitted to a computer, which displays the image on the screen. The technician can move the scanner to get a clearer picture.

During the scan, it is important to remain still to get a clear image. The technician can assist in making you comfortable before the scan begins. The test will take about 30-60 minutes.

How to prepare for the test

You must sign an informed consent form. Several hours to 1 day before the scan, the injection of gallium will be administered to you at the hospital or doctor’s office.

Just before the scan, remove jewelry, dentures, or other metal objects that can affect the scan. Replace the clothing on the upper half of your body with a hospital gown.

For infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age and previous experiences. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

  • infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel
The injection of gallium will sting, and the puncture site may hurt when touched for several hours or days. The scan is painless; however, you must remain still. This may cause discomfort for some patients. The wait between the injection and scan can cause some patients to become agitated.

Why the test is performed
This test is most often performed when there is evidence of inflammation in the lungs (sarcoidosis).

Normal Values
The lungs should appear of normal size and texture with little uptake of gallium.

What abnormal results mean

  • sarcoidosis  
  • other respiratory infections

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

What the risks are
There is some risk to children or fetuses. A pregnant or nursing woman may pass on radiation, so special precautions will be made for patients in those conditions who need the scan.

For nonpregnant or nonnursing women, and for men, there is very little risk from the radiation in gallium, because the amount is very small. There are increased risks with numerous exposures to radiation (such as X-rays, and scans), which you should discuss with the health care provider who recommends the test.

Special considerations
Usually a chest X-ray will indicate the need for this scan. Small defects may not be visible.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.