Indium Scan of the Body

Indium Scan of the Body



A scanning procedure in which a patient's white blood cells are first labeled with the radioactive substance indium, and then the patient's body is scanned as a way of tracking the white blood cells at the site of possible infection.


The procedure is used to detect inflammatory processes in the body such as infections. By labelling the leukocytes (white blood cells), radiologists or nuclear medicine specialists can then watch their migration toward an abscess or other infection.


A nuclear medicine technologist withdraws about 50 ml. of blood. White blood cells are collected, exposed to indium, and reinjected by IV back into the patient.
The scan is scheduled for between 18 and 24 hours after the white blood cells have been labelled with indium. (In some cases, more scanning may be scheduled 48 hours after labelling).
For the scan, the patient lies on a special scanning table, as either a single camera passing underneath the table or two cameras (one above the table and one underneath) are placed as close as possible to the body, slowly scanning the person's body.
The radiologist may need extra pictures, but these take only a few minutes each.
While the patient must remain perfectly still during the scan, there should be no discomfort.


After the scan, the patient should be able to continue with normal daily activities with no problems.


The only risk during this scanning procedure could be to a patient who is pregnant, as with any type of injectable radioactive substance. If the woman is pregnant, the radiologist must be notified; if the scan is cleared, the radiologist may use a lower dosage of indium.

Normal results

The scan should reveal no infection or pathology.

Abnormal results

The scan will reveal details, such as location, about an infection in the patient's body.

Key terms

Indium — A silvery metallic element with some nonmetallic chemical properties used to label white blood cells prior to scanning.
Leukocyte — A white blood cell protects the body against infection and fight infection when it occurs. They are bigger than red blood cells.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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