Gallium Scan of Breast

Norm of Gallium Scan of Breast

Normal pattern of breast gallium uptake as interpreted by a nuclear medicine physician.


Usage of Gallium Scan of Breast

Detection and location of tumor or inflammatory lesions of the breast, evaluation of lymphomas, and identification of recurrent tumors after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.


Description of Gallium Scan of Breast

Nuclear medicine scan using gallium-67 citrate to localize neoplasms and inflammatory lesions of the breast tissues and lymph nodes. It is believed that the gallium binds to the transferrin and lactoferrin circulating in plasma and soft tissue. Tumors and lesions containing neutrophils also have large concentrations of these two beta globulins, causing the gallium clearance to be slower than that in normal tissue. Therefore these abnormalities appear on the scan as abnormally large concentrations of gallium uptake.


Professional Considerations of Gallium Scan of Breast

Consent form IS required.

Allergic reaction to the radiopharmaceutical (itching, hives, rash, tight feeling in the throat, shortness of breath, bronchospasm, anaphylaxis, death), infection.
Previous allergic reaction to a radiopharmaceutical. This procedure is usually contraindicated during pregnancy and breast-feeding.



  1. The client is injected with a gallium-67 citrate radiopharmaceutical intravenously 48–72 hours before the scan.
  2. See Client and Family Teaching.
  3. Just before beginning the procedure, take a “time out” to verify the correct client, procedure, and site.



  1. The client is positioned either erect or recumbent under a gamma (Anger) camera or rectilinear scanner in the nuclear medicine department.
  2. Serial images are obtained anteriorly and posteriorly, and occasional lateral views may be required.
  3. The client must lie motionless during the scan.


Postprocedure Care

  1. See Client and Family Teaching.


Client and Family Teaching

  1. Increase intake of fluids, where not contraindicated, beginning 24 hours before the scan.
  2. The camera will make clicking noises during the scan.
  3. It is important to lie motionless during the scan.
  4. Drink 6–8 glasses of water and other fluids per day for 2 days after the scan.


Factors That Affect Results

  1. Breast tissue has an increased affinity for gallium uptake during pregnancy, lactation, and menarche. These conditions may produce a false-positive result.
  2. Drugs that may cause false-positive results include oral contraceptives.
  3. Lesions <1–2 cm in size may not be detectable with a gallium scan.


Other Data

  1. Gallium is excreted by the kidney and colon in 24–48 hours.
  2. Gallium scanning does not differentiate malignant from benign tumors.
  3. The scan takes 30–60 minutes to perform.
  4. Health care professionals working in a nuclear medicine area must follow federal standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. These standards include precautions for handling the radioactive material and monitoring of potential radiation exposure.