How Much Does a HIDA Scan Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

A HIDA scan, also referred to as a hepatobiliary scan in the medical world, is a diagnostic test designed to capture images of the small intestine, gallbladder, liver and bile ducts to help diagnose any medical conditions related to these organs.  Aside from diagnosing a condition, it can help be used as part of a gallbladder ejection fraction, which is a test that helps determine how much bile, a substance that helps digest fat, from your gallbladder.

How much does a HIDA scan cost?

The cost of a HIDA scan, as with any medical test, will depend on the facility you choose, your doctor/medical professional performing the test and your medical insurance policy, and based on these factors, the costs tend to range anywhere from $575 to $1,300 without any health insurance policy for just the HIDA scan.

As for health insurance, your provider should cover it, only leaving you responsible for your co-pays and deductibles, but the final cost will greatly depend on your policy details.  For this reason, we highly advise that you talk with your provider to see what you’re responsible for and which facility is in your insurance company’s network.

MDSave.com, a website which connects you with local providers, stated their national average, if you were to book through its website, was $552.

Preparing for the test

Prior to the test, your doctor will ask you to prepare for the test and this entails special preparation instructions, including fasting for at least four hours prior to the test, informing your doctor about any medications you’re currently taking and also letting your doctor know if you’re currently pregnant or breastfeeding.  Your doctor should provide you with documentation in regards to how the scan works and what you should expect on the day of the scan.

HIDA scan procedure – what happens?

Prior to the scan, you will be asked to slip into a hospital gown and will also be asked to remove any metal jewelry and accessories before the scan begins.

Next, you will be asked to lie back on a table and lay down as still as possible as the technician positions a camera slightly above your stomach area.

Once in position, an intravenous needle is then injected into either your arm or hand, with a radioactive tracer injected to help move through your body’s bloodstream in order for the bile-making cells to absorb it.  As this tracer moves into your gallbladder, through the bile duct and finally into the small intestines, your technician, during this process, will take pictures of the process each step of the way.

The average HIDA scan, from start to the finish, takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete, but this greatly depends on how well your body functions during the test.  After the scan, you can resume normal activity and the small amount of radioactive tracer will pass through your urine and stool over the next 48 hours.

Do note that in some cases, your doctor, according to Healthline.com, may ask that you have the scan with cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone which causes your gallbladder to help empty and release the bile.  If your doctor ordered this, then you will be given it either via a medication you can take orally or it can be injected via the veins.

Results

You should be able to get the results the same day of your scan, according to WebMD.com.  If the results did show that everything was “normal,” then it means your gallbladder is working as it should and is of average shape and size.  It also means both your liver and small intestines are healthy as well.

If your scan comes back as an “abnormal” reading, then it could mean the test revealed one of the following:  either an infection, gallstones, bile duct blockage, a problem with the gallbladder functioning and/or an abnormal growth.  If this were the case, then your doctor will want to either repeat the scan again and/or run another type of imaging test to confirm the diagnosis.

Tips to know

Side effects, even though the scan is considered to be safe, can still occur.  Potential side effects can include an allergic reaction to the medication used, bruising at the site of the IV and/or exposure to small amounts of radiation.  The chemical you do receive during the scan is only considered to be radioactive for a few hours but will become harmless afterward.  Always talk with your doctor immediately with any uncomfortable side effects you may be experiencing.


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