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White Cell Study


  • You have been referred for a white cell scan in which your leucocytes (white cells) will be labelled with a tracer.

  • Technetium [99mTc] labelled leucocytes are used to image acute inflammation or infection.

  • You will visit our Department THREE times on the same day:

  1. To have 20mls of blood taken – a simple blood test (usually at 9.45 am ~ takes approx. 2-3 minutes).

  2. To have your own 20mls labelled blood given back to you – a simple blood test (usually at 11.15 am ~ takes approx. 2-3 minutes).

  3. To have your images taken (usually at 2.15pm ~ takes approx. 60 minutes)

  • There are rarely any side effects with these injections.

  • After the second injection, you are free to leave the department for 3 hours.

  • The only exception to this is if you are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s Disease. In this case there is an extra image.

  • Upon your return, Imaging can take anything from 40 to 80 minutes.

  • During imaging, you will be required to lie still whilst the Gamma Camera (1) images the affected area.

  • Often, we acquire 3D images of the affected area using SPECT/CT (2)

  • With SPECT/CT imaging, the same Gamma Camera simply rotates around your body, taking images all the time. This can take 20 minutes.

  • You receive a slight radiation dose by having a White cell scan with SPECT/CT ~ up to 3 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 White cell scan 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 24-hours. During this time, you need to express and discard your breast milk as often as required. You will need to bottle-feed your child during this period.


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

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

(3) We all receive a yearly background radiation dose ~ 2.4mSv. White cell scan with SPECT/CT ~ 7mSv = 2.9 times yearly background dose.

value. quality care. convenience.

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