A nuclear medicine Indium-111 WBC (White Blood Cell) scan assists in identifying regions of inflammation, and thus infections. Often, a bone scan may be ordered for comparison with the Indium-111 WBC Scan.

Based on the result of the Indium-111 WBC scan, Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and/or ultrasound examinations may be additionally recommended.

Nuclear medicine determines the cause of the medical problem based on the function of the organ, tissue or bone. This test uses a small amount of radioactive material to emit photon energy. This energy is detected by a gamma camera which then captures and creates computerized images.

When would I get a Indium-111 White Blood Cell (WBC) Scan?

Your medical provider may recommend an Indium-111 WBC scan in the evaluation of:

  • prosthetic joint infections
  • osteomyelitis (infection in your bone)
  • vascular graft infections
  • intra-abdominal infections
  • abscesses
  • endocarditis (an inflammation of your heart’s inner lining)
  • foot ulcers
  • infected implanted devices
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • a fever of unknown origin.

An Indium-111 WBC scan may be determined to be appropriate when other imaging studies produce uncertain results or may be determined to be too risky and potentially harmful.

What Will I Experience?

An Indium-111 WBC Scan involves the injection of radioactive white blood cells into the vein through a small needle. The technologist will then work with your blood sample to make the blood sample radioactive with a material called Indium. Then, a gamma camera scan to confirm or exclude a clinically suspected infection. 

When it is time for the imaging to begin, the camera or scanner will take a series of images. The camera may rotate around you or it may stay in one position and you may be asked to change positions in between images. While the camera is taking pictures, you will need to remain still for brief periods of time. In some cases, the camera may move very close to your body. This is necessary to obtain the best quality images. If you are claustrophobic, you should inform the technologist before your exam begins.

Typically, an Indium-111 WBC scan takes approximately two to three hours to complete.