Gallium scan for lymphoma/POEMS/lymphnodes is this right?

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Gallium scan for lymphoma/POEMS/lymphnodes is this right?

Postby cured4real? » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:29 pm

I brought my old lymphectomy records to my rheumatologist along with my new cat scan and articles you suggested and wrote him a letter, kindly asking his opinion. His office called this moring and requested I come in right a way and get lab work and they are going to do a gallium scan. It sounds like this is a good general test for any kind of cancer and inflammation/infection that might be brewing. He is trying to assess my lymph node function. The only thing that seems weird is that they told me there is no prep (I can eat and drink) and that I need to come in three days in a row at 8 in the morning for 45 minutes. I'm going to a little country hospital, but I'm sure they must do this once in a while, but from what I read, it sounds like you need to get a shot of gallium then leave for three or four days, then not eat, get an enema, then they scan. I wonder if I should check with the hospital on this. Is it different for lymph nodes/lymph node function assessment than for a regular gallium scan? He's also doing the SPE and IgM, IgA again.
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:36 pm

Thank you also!!!!

Postby cured4real? » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:32 pm

Thank you so so much, without printing out the articles you referred me to, I don't think I would've gotten the same concern. You are truly a lifesaver. I have been suffering for so long and finally I'm getting some action. I felt better today just knowing that they are doing something! Thank you more than I can express. You will be in my constant thoughts and prayers and I am forever grateful. I didn't know what else to do.
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Postby patoco » Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:06 pm

Hi Ya Cured :)

From my understanding, a gallium scan would be a good test to have. There will be an injection of a radioactive compound done, and maybe they will explain all that when you get to the hospital.

let me know how it goes!


Here is some good info on them:

Gallium Scan

Test Overview

A gallium scan is a nuclear medicine test that uses a special camera to take pictures of specific tissues in the body after a radioactive tracer (radionuclide or radioisotope) makes them visible. Each type of tissue that may be scanned (including bones, organs, glands, and blood vessels) uses a different radioactive compound as a tracer. The radioactivity of the tracer decreases over a period of weeks. It remains in the body temporarily before it is eliminated as waste, usually in the urine or stool (feces).

During a gallium scan, the tracer (radioactive gallium citrate) is injected into a vein in the arm. It travels through the bloodstream and into the body's tissues, primarily the bones, liver, intestine, and areas of tissue where inflammation or a buildup of white blood cells (WBCs) is present. It usually takes the tracer a few days to accumulate in these areas, so in most cases a scan is done at 2 days and repeated at 3 days after the tracer is injected. Areas where the tracer accumulates in higher-than-normal amounts show up as bright or “hot” spots in the pictures. The problem areas may be caused by infection, certain inflammatory diseases, or a tumor.

Why It Is Done

A gallium scan is done to:

Detect the source of an infection that is causing a fever (called a fever of unknown origin).

Detect an abscess or certain infections, especially in the bones.
Monitor the response to antibiotic treatment.

Diagnose inflammatory conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis or sarcoidosis.

Detect certain types of cancer (such as lymphoma). A gallium scan also may be done to determine whether cancer has spread (metastasized) to other areas of the body, or to monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

How To Prepare

Before the gallium scan, tell your doctor if:

You are or might be pregnant.

You are breast-feeding. If you will no longer be breast-feeding after the test, you will be asked to stop breast-feeding 2 weeks before the test so that the radioactive tracer will not accumulate in your breast tissue. If you will continue to breast-feed after the test, it is recommended that you not use your breast milk for 4 weeks after a gallium scan, since the tracer can be passed to your baby. Some doctors may recommend that you stop breast-feeding completely after this scan.

Within the past 4 days, you have had an X-ray test using barium contrast material (such as a barium enema) or have taken a medication (such as Pepto-Bismol) that contains bismuth. Barium and bismuth can interfere with test results.

Gallium accumulates in the large intestine (colon) before being eliminated in the stool. You may need to take a laxative the night before the scan and have an enema 1 to 2 hours before the scan to prevent the gallium in your colon from interfering with pictures of the area being studied.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will indicate. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A gallium scan is usually done by a nuclear medicine technologist. The scan pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist or nuclear medicine specialist.

The technologist cleans the site on your arm where the radioactive tracer will be injected. A small amount of the radioactive tracer is then injected. You will need to return between 24 and 96 hours later for the diagnostic scans. Gallium scans are usually done at 48 hours and repeated at 72 hours after the tracer is injected.

When you come in for the scan, you will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the scan. You may need to take off all or most of your clothes, depending on which area is being examined (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the test). You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the test.

You will lie on your back on a table, and a large scanning camera will be positioned closely above you. After the radioactive tracer is injected, the camera will scan for radiation released by the tracer and produce pictures of the tracer in your tissues. The camera may move slowly above and around your body. The camera does not produce any radiation, so you are not exposed to any additional radiation while the scan is being done.

You may be asked to move into different positions so the area of interest can be viewed from other angles. You need to lie very still during each scan to avoid blurring the pictures. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly during some of the scans.

Each scan may take about 60 to 90 minutes.

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture when the tracer is injected, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Otherwise, a gallium scan is usually painless. You may find it difficult to remain still during the scan. Ask for a pillow or blanket to make yourself as comfortable as possible before the scan begins.


There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, including the low level of radiation released by the radioactive tracer used for this test.

Allergic reactions to the radioactive tracer are rare. Most of the tracer will be eliminated from your body (through your urine or stool) within 4 days. The amount of radiation is so small that it is not a risk for people to come in contact with you following the test.

Occasionally, some soreness or swelling may develop at the injection site. These symptoms can usually be relieved by applying moist, warm compresses to your arm.


A gallium scan is a nuclear medicine test that uses a special camera to take pictures of certain tissues in the body after a radioactive tracer (radionuclide or radioisotope) makes them visible. The results of a gallium scan are usually available within 2 days after the scans are completed.

Gallium scan Normal:

Normal amounts of gallium collect in the bones, liver, spleen, and large intestine (colon). No areas of unusual gallium accumulation are seen.


An abnormally high gallium accumulation (hot spot) is present in one or more areas of the body, possibly indicating inflammation, infection, or a tumor.

What Affects the Test

Factors that can interfere with your test and the accuracy of the results include:

Pregnancy. A gallium scan is not usually done during pregnancy because the radiation could damage the developing baby (fetus).
Barium and bismuth. If a gallium scan is needed, it should be done before any tests that use barium (such as a barium enema).
The inability to remain still during the test.

What To Think About

A gallium scan is used for specific types of cancers, mainly of the lymph nodes, bones, or bone marrow. A normal scan does not exclude the possibility of cancer, because some types of cancer do not show up on a gallium scan. A gallium scan also cannot determine whether a tumor is cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).

The results of a gallium scan should be interpreted along with the results of other tests, such as a physical examination, blood tests, and X-rays. In many cases, results obtained from a magnetic resonance image (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) may be as accurate as the results obtained from a gallium scan. For more information, see the medical tests Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

If other nuclear scanning tests need to be done, these tests should be scheduled before a gallium scan because the gallium tracer stays in the body longer than other tracer compounds.


Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer Paul D. Traughber, MD

- Radiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kenneth B. Sutherland, CD, BSc, MD, FRCPC

- Diagnostic Radiology
Last Updated January 12, 2005




What is it? A gallium scan is a test to find abnormal areas in the soft tissue of your body. Gallium is the name of the medicine that you will receive for this test. This test may be used to find growths, areas of infection or swelling, or to find the cause of a fever. It may also be used to check the effects of treatment for cancer or other medical conditions. This is a type of nuclear (NU-klee-ar) medicine scan.

Why do I need a gallium scan? A gallium scan may be done for any of the following medical conditions:

Diseases that cause redness, swelling, and pain, such as pulmonary fibrosis or inflammatory bowel syndrome

Cancer, Hodgkin's disease, or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (lim-FOH-mah). The scan can also see if cancer has spread to other areas, or to see how well your cancer treatment is working.

Fever (high body temperature) that caregivers cannot find a cause for.

To find an infection, or to check how your body is responding to medicine used to treat an infection.

Who should not have this test?

Tell your caregiver before the test if you might be or are pregnant. Caregivers may suggest waiting to have the test until after your baby is born. Tell caregivers if you are breast feeding. They may suggest waiting to have the test until after you have finished breast feeding your baby.

Contrast medicines like barium used during a barium enema, or bismuth used in Pepto-Bismol® may change the results of this test. Tell your caregiver if you have had a test called a barium enema within the past four days. Tell your caregiver if you have taken a medicine that contains bismuth within the past four days.

What should I do to get ready for the gallium scan? Before this scan, you are usually allowed to eat, drink fluids, and take any medicines that are usually taken. You may need to eat a special diet for lunch, and a clear liquid evening meal the day before the test. Gallium collects in the large intestine before it leaves your body in your bowel movements (stool). Your caregiver may tell you to take laxative medicine or a suppository the night before the scan. You may also need to have an enema one to two hours before the scan. The laxative and enemas will stop the gallium in your intestines from changing your test results.

Informed consent: You have the right to understand your health condition in words that you know. You should be told what tests, treatments, or procedures may be done to treat your condition. Your doctor should also tell you about the risks and benefits of each treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives caregivers permission to do certain tests, treatments, or procedures. If you are unable to give your consent, someone who has permission can sign this form for you. A consent form is a legal piece of paper that tells exactly what will be done to you. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen.

How is a gallium scan performed?

Your caregiver will tell you what time to come to the Nuclear Medicine department where the scan is performed. A substance called gallium is put into a vein, usually in your hand or arm. Gallium is a radioactive tracer. As the tracer decays (breaks down), it gives off gamma radiation.

Caregivers may ask you to return at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours after the injection. When you arrive, remove jewelry and other metal objects, and put on a hospital gown.

As you lie flat on a special bed, a scanning camera moves slowly over and around you. The scanner can locate the radiation coming off the tracer. Many pictures are taken during the scan to show how the tracer is spread throughout your body. Do not move unless caregivers ask you to change positions. Moving your body can make the scanning pictures blurry. Each scan takes about 45 to 90 minutes.

What will I feel during the scan? You may feel discomfort when tracer solution is put in your vein. The scan itself is painless, but you may feel uncomfortable lying still during the scan. Caregivers may offer you medicine that may help you to lie still. If you need pillows or blankets, ask for them before the scan starts.

What should I do after the scan? You may continue activities, eat, drink, and take your usual medicines as you did before the test. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and juices to help flush the tracer out of your body. The tracer leaves your body quickly in your BMs, usually within four days. Flush the toilet three times after going to the bathroom. This makes sure that the small amount of tracer leaving your body does not stay in the toilet bowl.

What are normal and abnormal results? Your bones, liver, spleen, and large intestine collect equal amounts of gallium. A normal gallium scan looks the same throughout without any large amounts of gallium in any area. An abnormal scan can have "hot" spots. A hot spot is an area that has more gallium because of an infection, inflammation, or a tumor (growth). Gallium scans may not be able to show if a tumor is malignant (cancer) or benign (not cancer).

What are the risks of having a gallium scan? Rarely, a person may develop a rash, swelling, or have a serious allergic reaction to the tracer medicine. The place where the tracer was given may become red, swollen, painful, or infected. Some cancers do not show up on a gallium scan, so a normal scan does not always mean that you do not have cancer. If you do not have a gallium scan, caregivers may not be able to decide what would be the best care for your health condition. Your condition could get worse, or you could die. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your medicine or care.


You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment. ... cid=HTHLTH


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