Bile Acid Malabsorption - SeHcat scan - IBS Network

IBS Network

36,016 members12,068 posts

Bile Acid Malabsorption - SeHcat scan

Sky34 profile image

Hi all, I'm due to have a SeHcat scan this week, to rule out Bile Acid Malabsorption for my symptoms. I read that it's equivalent to 2 months' background radiation - which is a lot! I was advised by another doctor that as an alternative, I could go on a course of the medication used to treat Bile Acid Malabsorbtion (like Questran) to see if it makes a difference to my symptoms - and therefore that could confirm or rule out a diagnosis. Has anyone had similar success? I'm concerned about the dye you have to swallow for the scan, too! Any advise really appreciated. Thanks.

11 Replies

Hi, I had this done about 18 months ago. I was more concerned about swallowing the capsule myself, I'm not good at taking tablets. I didn't have any funny after effects or anything and I don't glow in the dark! 😄. But seriously, if you are that worried you could just try the questran and see. My cousin did the test and has it and was given tablets but she doesn't take them. Some people don't get on with the bile sequestrants.

Sky34 profile image
Sky34 in reply to Maureen1958

Thanks Maureen for your helpful reply. I'm weighing up which one's worse - the radiation or the potential side effects of trialling the medication! I'll work it all out. Thanks again.

Maureen1958 profile image
Maureen1958 in reply to Sky34

Well what ever you decide, let us know how you get on.

Sky34 profile image
Sky34 in reply to Maureen1958

Will do!


I'm a Nuclear Medicine Technologist so I might be able to help you with the radiation issue.

For starting this scan is one of the lowest doses of radiation you can get... don't be scared when you read its equivalent of 2 months of background radiation - do you know that any transatlantic flight has the same or even more exposition to radiation? Also some parts of the country has a much higher level of background radiation than the test due to the type of the rocks, for example granite. Also, most of the x-rays for example have much higher dose of radiation than the SeHcat .

I think this particular test is really useful with very low dose of radiation amazing results and not all the departments have access to it .

Its painless and theres no side effects at all . For the scan you just need to lie down in a bed and the machine will do the rest - theres no noise at all and you can even go for a nap :)

Hope this helps! If theres anything else I can clarify to ease you just let me know :)

I had this done it’s painless and takes ten minutes. You’ll be fine. I was diagnosed with bile salt malabsorption and take colesevelam now which is great. Can eat lots of difference foods without worry now. I had my gallbladder removed two years ago and was never advised of bile salt malabsorption... until the symptoms started to show. Good luck you will be fine

Hi. After years of suffering from diarrhoea and being told it was IBS my symptoms were getting worse and I was being sick. Referred to consultant and had the test and scan and diagnosed with malabsorption. Honestly it’s a small tablet and I had no side effects whatsoever. It’s such a tiny amount of radiation and leaves your body naturally over a short period of time (not that you notice anything different). I have questran sachets which you start off taking 1 a day for a week, then 2 a day for a week and so on. I found even 1 a day was enough and actually made me a little constipated! I’m lucky mine was mild, some have to take 6+ sachets and still have issues. I would say the only problem is the side effects which cause bloating, wind and cramping. Unfortunately I got them all. Apparently the tablet form is better - cholestyramine (sorry if misspelt) but supplies of all these are difficult at the moment due to a manufacturing issues of the main active ingredient. But the real plus is not having the urgency of needing the toilet so no near misses! I suppose it’s how bad you feel or have flare ups. I needed the loo a few times a day and a few times a week had it so bad I would be sat on the loo in the middle of the night for a couple of hours and being sick in the sink. I work full time so it really started to affect my life. Good luck whatever you decide.

Lola1990 profile image
Lola1990 in reply to jbrking

Hi just read your reply and you have exactly same like me . I have to have 2 sachets before every meal . I didn't know that you can get in tablet form have you ever had then ? I struggle sometimes to get the sachets due to suppliers but would much prefer to take by tablet . I have to take the sachets with orange juices .

jbrking profile image
jbrking in reply to Lola1990

Are you on Facebook? I only found out about tablets from a fb page called bile acid malabsorption, and heard from other people. Apparently they’re more expensive though hence doctors don’t mention them! So many say they can’t get on with questran and now have them and get on ok. Same as you I stick some squash/cordial in mine to drink.

PS and what Danii says you take a small tablet, lie under a small scanner which just goes over your middle for 10 mins, there was a radio in the room so I just chilled out. Then a week later you have another scan. It’s so simple, the most non invasive test I’ve had!

Yes! A smart doctor for a change!! You do not need to be diagnosed with bile acid malabsorbtion to try Questran!!! There are 2 other meds that work miracles for chronic diarrhea, if Questran isn't your cup of tea: Welchol and Colestipol. I take Colestipol (6 tablets a day - 3 twice a day) and I have my life back. My doctor didn't make me go through that test..he just prescribed it for me! I'm glad your doctor is open minded enough to let you go on this med! Good luck and keep us posted!

You may also like...