All Medical Procedures

A hepatobiliary (HIDA) scan is an imaging procedure used to diagnose problems in the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts.

In the HIDA scan, a radioactive chemical or tracer is injected into a vein in your arm.

The tracer is handled by the liver like bile. Bile is a fluid produced and excreted by your liver that helps your digestive system break down fats in the foods you eat. Bile is stored in your gallbladder and the gallbladder releases the bile when you eat a meal.

A special nuclear medicine scanner (gamma camera) tracks the flow of the tracer from your liver into your gallbladder and small intestine.

The name HIDA comes from an early tracer used for the scan, hydroxy iminodiacetic acid. More effective tracers are used today.

Cholescintigraphy, hepatobiliary scintigraphy are other names for a HIDA scan.

A liver biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of liver tissue, so it can be examined under a microscope for signs of damage or disease. Your doctor may recommend a liver biopsy if blood tests or imaging studies suggest you might have a liver problem. A liver biopsy is also used to determine the severity of liver disease. This information helps guide treatment decisions.

The most common type of liver biopsy is called percutaneous liver biopsy. It involves inserting a thin needle through your abdomen into the liver and removing a small piece of tissue. Two other types of liver biopsy — one using a vein in the neck (transjugular) and the other using a small abdominal incision (laparoscopic) — also remove liver tissue with a needle.

Liver function tests are blood tests used to help diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage. The tests measure the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood.

Some of these tests measure how well the liver is performing its normal functions of producing protein and clearing bilirubin, a blood waste product. Other liver function tests measure enzymes that liver cells release in response to damage or disease.

Conditions other than liver disease or damage can lead to abnormal liver function test results. Test results can be normal in people who have liver disease or damage.

An upper endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube. A specialist in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist) uses endoscopy to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine (duodenum).

The medical term for an upper endoscopy is esophagogastroduodenoscopy. An upper endoscopy may be done in your doctor's office, an outpatient surgery center or a hospital.