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Liver Red Blood Cell Study


  • You have been referred for a Liver Red Blood Cell Study (Liver RBC Study) in which imaging is done in two parts: Initial and Delayed.

  • A Liver RBC study is very sensitive in showing haemangiomas in the liver that are over 1cm in size.

  • A haemangioma is a benign (noncancerous) mass that occurs in the liver and is made up of a tangle of blood vessels.

  • It's not clear what causes a liver haemangioma to form but it is believed that it is congenital i.e. you're born with it.

  • To perform this test, we need to give you two injections into your vein (similar to a blood test).

  • The first injection (stannous ions), prepares your blood for the second injection (99mTc-Pertechnetate).

  • The second injection is done 15 minutes after the first injection while you lie on a bed and makes your blood slightly radioactive.

  • There are rarely any side effects with either injection.

  • Initial images are done of your abdomen using a Gamma Camera (1). 3D imaging is also performed and is called SPECT/CT imaging (2). Imaging usually takes 45 minutes to complete.

  • With SPECT/CT imaging, the same Gamma Camera simply rotates around your body, taking images all the time.

  • At the completion of your Initial images, you will be asked to return to the Department after 2 hours for your Delayed images.

  • Delayed Imaging is basically repeating the same views taken earlier. Again, this can take 30-45 minutes.

  • You receive a slight radiation dose by having a Liver RBC Study with SPECT/CT ~ up to 3.75 times your yearly background radiation (3).


Patient Preparation:

  • If you are pregnant, trying to fall pregnant or breast feeding, you must inform our staff.

  • If you have had prior imaging e.g. PET, Nuclear Scan, CT, MRI, X-Ray, Ultrasound, etc... please bring these with you.

  • Please also bring your referral and any blood results that you may have had done.

  • There is no preparation for a Liver RBC Study i.e. eat and drink as normal.

  • If you are on any medications, please take these as normal.

  • Wear comfortable clothing and minimise the amount of metal jewellery you have on (all metal objects will need to be removed prior to imaging).

  • Important Note: You cannot have this test if you have had a PET or Nuclear Scan within 24 hours prior to this test. If you have had Iodine-131 therapy, allow 4-weeks before having this test. Please ring to discuss booking options.​


Breast-Feeding Mothers: Once you have been given the tracer, you need to stop breast-feeding for two feeds. During this time, you need to express and discard your breast milk. You will need to bottle-feed your child during this period.


(1) A Gamma Camera is a device that detects gamma-rays (gamma-rays are very similar to x-rays) and does not emit any radiation.

(2) SPECT/CT imaging (Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography / Computer Tomography). CT does emit radiation

(3) We all receive a yearly background radiation dose ~ 2.4mSv. Liver RBC Study with SPECT/CT ~ 9.0mSv = 3.75 times yearly background dose.

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