Evaluation of mebrofenin hepatoscintigraphy in neonatal-onset jaundice

Pediatr Radiol. 1998 Dec;28(12):937-41. doi: 10.1007/s002470050505.


Background: The prognosis of infants with prolonged neonatal jaundice is dependent on early diagnosis because of the need for prompt surgical management of biliary atresia.

Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of 99 mTcm-trimethylbromo-iminodiacetic acid (TBIDA, mebrofenin) in the investigation of infantile jaundice.

Materials and methods: A retrospective study was undertaken of 58 patients with unexplained prolonged neonatal jaundice. Sixty-eight scans were reviewed.

Results: Mebrofenin scintigraphy confirmed the presence of a choledochal cyst in three of the four cases with that diagnosis. There were no false negative results in the nine patients with extrahepatic biliary atresia (EHBA). Three further infants had an incorrect histological diagnosis of EHBA. A gall bladder was identified by US in each case and in one of these, scintigraphy showed gut excretion. In the 16 patients with no gut excretion by 24 h, the final diagnoses were intrahepatic cholestasis (n = 7), Alagille's syndrome (n = 3), neonatal hepatitis (n = 3), alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (n = 2) and juvenile xanthogranuloma (n = 1). Seven infants had repeat scintigraphy after the administration of ursodeoxycholic acid (URSO). This changed five non-excretors with hepatitis into excretors. Two infants with hepatitis continued to show non-excretion after URSO, but a gallbladder was identified by US in both.

Conclusions: Mebrofenin scintigraphy is accurate in confirming the presence of a choledochal cyst and in refuting the diagnosis of EHBA. While histology and scintigraphy are each 100 % sensitive for the diagnosis of EHBA, neither, individually, is accurate and the investigation of prolonged neonatal jaundice requires a multi-modality imaging strategy.

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds
  • Biliary Atresia / complications
  • Biliary Atresia / diagnostic imaging
  • Choledochal Cyst / complications
  • Choledochal Cyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Glycine
  • Hepatitis / complications
  • Hepatitis / congenital
  • Hepatitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Imino Acids*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / etiology
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Organotechnetium Compounds*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Imino Acids
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • technetium Tc 99m mebrofenin
  • Glycine