What is it?
A white blood cell scan is a test used to detect areas of infection in the body that may not be detectable by other tests such as X-ray, CT or a bone scan.
What do I need to do before the procedure?
Make sure you remember to bring any previous films or reports to the appointment. Wear warm comfortable clothing. You will also need to:
- Medications - take your medications as normal
- Advise of pregnancy or breastfeeding - let the service know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
What will happen?
The test takes up to five hours and includes the following stages:
- Approximately 20ml of blood will be taken. The white blood cells in the blood will be labelled with a small amount of radioactivity. This labelling procedure takes 90 minutes. You do not have to wait at the service during this time
- You will need to return to have the blood injected back into you. The cells will be allowed to distribute through your body for three hours and you do not have to stay during this time
- Pictures will be taken of your body. This can take up to an hour to complete. You will be required to lie still while the pictures are taken and breathe normally.
Occasionally you may be asked to return for another type of scan, called a colloid scan. This is done to improve the accuracy of the white blood cell scan. The service will let you know if you need the colloid scan before you leave.
What can I expect after?
There are no after-effects from having this scan. The small dose of radiation in the injection is about the same as you would get from a chest X-ray.
Once it is finished, you can go home. You are able to drive immediately after the test. Your results will be sent to your GP or specialist.