A Look at the White Blood Cell (WBC) Scan

Are you contending with a potential infection or persistent unresolved inflammation? A WBC scan might be the key to finding what's causing it. 

White blood cell scans are often the best first step in effectively detecting the source of inflammation to treat an ongoing or unexpected infection. 

If you’ve been referred for a WBC scan, we are here to help you understand the process better.

Let's explore WBC scans together, discovering how they help detect infections or chronic inflammation for better diagnoses. Continue reading to learn more.

What is a White Blood Cell Scan?

A white blood cell (WBC) scan in radiology, also known as leukocyte scintigraphy, is a diagnostic imaging procedure used to detect areas of inflammation or infection in the body. 

This nuclear medicine test involves injecting a radioactive tracer into the bloodstream, which accumulates at sites of active infection or inflammation. The scan then captures images of these areas, enabling healthcare professionals to identify and locate sources of infection or inflammation within the body.

What Does a Tagged WBC Scan Detect?

A nuclear medicine WBC scan can effectively find and confirm various conditions and infections, including 

  • Osteomyelitis (Bone Infection)
  • Soft tissue infections
  • Intra-abdominal infections (such as abscesses)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)
  • Prosthetic device infections
  • Infected prosthetic joints
  • Infectious processes in post-surgical sites
  • Other sources of localized infection or inflammation in the body

This scan effectively identifies areas of increased white blood cell activity, aiding in diagnosing and localizing infections or inflammatory conditions in diverse anatomical regions.

What Can Be Seen in White Blood Cells Images?

Images taken during white blood cell scans show increased white blood cell activity in the body. These images reveal hotspots where the radioactive tracer, tagged to white blood cells, has accumulated, indicating potential areas of infection or inflammation. 

The scan highlights regions of heightened white blood cell concentration, helping healthcare professionals pinpoint sites of infection or inflammation within the body.

What’s Involved in a WBC Scan Procedure?

During a WBC scan, you'll undergo four main steps that typically follow as such:

  1. A small amount of blood is drawn from you, and white blood cells are separated and tagged with a radioactive substance.
  2. After the injection, there's a waiting period to allow tagged white blood cells to circulate and accumulate at sites of infection or inflammation.
  3. You'll then undergo imaging, where a gamma camera or similar equipment captures images as the radioactive tracer moves through your body.
  4. The imaging process can take a few hours, with scans performed at intervals to track the tracer's movement.

Throughout the procedure, you must remain on a table while the images are taken. It's a painless process; once completed, you can resume your usual activities.

How Long Does It Take to Have an Indium-Labeled WBC Scan?

The duration of a white blood cell scan can vary. 

Generally, the procedure involves several steps, including extracting and tagging white blood cells with Indium. After the labeled cells are injected, there's a waiting period for them to circulate and accumulate at sites of infection or inflammation. The imaging process can take several hours, depending on the specific protocols and imaging intervals the medical facility uses. 

Overall, the entire procedure may take several hours to complete.

Get Your Indium Labeled WBC Scan in North Carolina 

Your health matters. If you or a family member require detailed imaging for inflammation or infection, at Valley Regional Imaging we specialize in advanced imaging solutions, including white blood cell (WBC) scans.

Have you been referred to us for a nuclear medicine WBC scan? You can expect our team to reach out and schedule your appointment directly. Please get in touch with us now if you have any questions about this scan or related treatments. 

Please note that a doctor's referral is required for all WBC scans, nuclear medicine scans, and all other services except mammograms.