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Gallstone and Gallbladder Diagnosis


There are many tests to diagnose gallstones and evaluate the biliary (gallbladder) system.

The most common and simple test is an abdominal ultrasound. An ultrasound can determine: 1) if you have gallstones and 2) if any signs of an infection of the gallbladder are also present.

If other complications from gallstones are suspected, a CT (cat scan) or MRI may be ordered. These tests can determine: 1) if pancreatitis is present and it’s severity, 2) if gallstones have migrated to the main bile duct and are causing jaundice and, 3 ) if any dilation of the biliary system is present which would result from gallstones getting stuck in a biliary duct and causing an obstruction.

If biliary dyskinesia is suspected, a HIDA scan may be ordered. A HIDA scan is a nuclear medicine study that evaluates gallbladder function. A HIDA scan measures how well the gallbladder empties bile out of the gallbladder into the main common duct. Normal emptying (or ejection fraction) of the gallbladder is around 35%. If the ejection fraction is lower (less than 20%), this usually signifies biliary dyskinesia.