Morphine-augmented hepatobiliary scintigraphy in the severely I11: Caution is in order

Lorraine M. Fig, Richard L. Wahl, Richard E. Stewart, Brahm Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Morphine augmentation in hepatobiliary scintigraphy has been reported as a useful tool to shorten imaging time. The technique has not been extensively evaluated in patients who are severely ill and receiving total parenteral nutrition, although the study of these patients with non-morphine-augmented hepatobiliary scintigraphy is problematic. The authors retrospectively analyzed 51 morphine-augmented hepatobiliary studies performed in a tertiary referral center on a population with a high proportion of severe intercurrent illness (18 patients, 14 of whom were receiving total parenteral nutrition) and hepatocellular dysfunction (eight patients). The overall sensitivity was 94%, specificity was 69%, and the false-positive rate was 40% for the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis. The majority of the false-positive cases occurred in the severely ill subgroup (false-positive rate, 60%). Morphine-augmented hepatobiliary studies may be advantageous because of shortened imaging time. However, patients who have severe intercurrent illness, whether or not they are receiving total parenteral nutrition, have a higher frequency of false-positive morphine-augmented hepatobiliary studies, and positive findings at scintigraphy in this patient group should be interpreted with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-473
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1990


  • Cholecystitis, 762.285
  • Gallbladder, diseases, 762.285
  • Gallbladder, radionudide studies, 762.1299
  • Morphine


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