Answer to Question #7187 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Medicine Patient Issues — Diagnostic Nuclear Medicine

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

I have to have a HIDA scan (hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan) to assess gallbladder function. I'm afraid of the long-term damage to fertility. Will this affect my ovarian reserve? I read that some radiation treatments damage eggs and lead patients to go through an earlier menopause.


Thank you for your question. There is little effect on the ovaries from the low radiation dose from a HIDA scan (or any other low-dose study) for several reasons: (1) the ovaries are not very sensitive to radiation and (2) the ovaries have the ability to repair any mild radiation damage, if it occurred.

Available data from both human experience and animal studies indicate that any damage produced by radiation, even in doses much greater than from routine diagnostic medical texts, is repaired within a few weeks. Even at large doses (greater than diagnostic testing levels), only a fraction of the cells that would later develop into ova were damaged. The probability that one of these few potentially injured cells would produce a child is remote. The overwhelming probability favors no issues from the HIDA scan.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

Answer posted on 24 January 2008. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.