Lack of Clinical Utility of Labeled White Blood Cell Scintigraphy in Patients with Fever of Unknown Origin

Ronald E. Fisher, Ashley L. Drews, Edwin L. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Labeled white blood cell scintigraphy (WBCS) has been used for over 40 years to localize an infection source in patients with fever of unknown origin (FUO). It continues to be in widespread use for such patients in modern times, despite the tremendous advances in modern radiological imaging and laboratory medicine. Methods: We critically evaluated the clinical contribution of WBCS performed in 132 patients with FUO at 7 hospitals from mid-2015 to the end of 2019. For each patient, all radiographic and laboratory results and all electronic clinical notes were carefully evaluated as many days before and after the scan as necessary to arrive at a final diagnosis. Results: Although 50 WBCS (38%) showed positive findings, the majority of these were false positive (FP). Of the 19 true-positive (TP) scans, most were already known or about to become known by tests already ordered at the time of the scan. Only 2 TP scans (1.5%) contributed to the final diagnosis, and these did so only indirectly. FP scans led to 7 unnecessary procedures. Conclusions: In FUO patients for whom an infection source is not discovered following an appropriate radiographic and laboratory workup, WBCS is not a useful procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofac015
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

Keywords

  • fever
  • leukocyte
  • origin
  • scintigraphy
  • unknown

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology

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