Radioactive abscess scan looks abscesses in the body using a radioactive material. An abscess occurs when pus collects due to an infection.
Blood is drawn from a vein, most often on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
The blood sample is then sent to a lab. There the white blood cells are tagged with a radioactive substance called indium. The cells are then injected back into a vein body through another needle stick.
You will need to return to the office 6-24 hours later. At that time, you will have a nuclear medicine scan to see if white blood cells have gathered in areas of your body where they would not be normally.
Most of the time you do not need special preparation. You will need to sign a consent form.
For the test, you will need to wear a hospital gown or loose clothing. You will need to take off all jewelry.
Tell the health care provider if you are pregnant. This procedure is NOT recommended if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Women of childbearing age (before menopause) should use some form of birth control during the course of this procedure.
Tell your health care provider if you have or had any of the following medical conditions, procedures, or treatments, as they can interfere with test results:
Some people feel a little pain when the needle is inserted to draw blood. Others feel only a prick or sting. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
The nuclear medicine scan is painless. It may be a little uncomfortable to lie flat and still on the scanning table. This is only for a short time.
An abscess may form after surgery, or it may form on its own. Symptoms of an abscess depend on where it is found, but may include:
Normal findings would show no abnormal gathering of white blood cells.
A gathering of white blood cells outside of the normal areas is a sign of either an abscess or other type of inflammatory process.
Some types of abscess are:
The test is controlled so that you get only the smallest amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is very low compared with the benefits.
Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of the x-ray.
Radioactive abscess scan; Abscess scan
Segerman D, Miles KA. Radionuclide imaging: general principles. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone;2008:chap 7.
Wilson DJ, Berendt AR. Bone and soft tissue infection. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone;2008:chap 51.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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