Radiolabeled WBC scintigraphy in the diagnostic workup of patients with suspected device-related infections

Paola A. Erba, Martina Sollini, Umberto Conti, Francesco Bandera, Carlo Tascini, Salvatore M. De Tommasi, Giulio Zucchelli, Roberta Doria, Francesco Menichetti, Maria Grazia Bongiorni, Elena Lazzeri, Giuliano Mariani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the diagnostic performance of 99mTc-hexamethypropylene amine oxime labeled autologous white blood cell (99mTc-HMPAO-WBC) scintigraphy in patients with suspected infections associated with cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIEDs). Background Early, definite recognition of CIED-related infections combined with accurate localization and quantification of disease burden is a prerequisite for optimal treatment strategies. Methods All 63 consecutive patients underwent clinical examination, blood chemistry, microbiology, and echography of the cardiac region/venous pathway of the device. Final diagnosis of infection was established in 32 of 63 patients and in 23 of 32 by microbiology. Results Sensitivity of 99mTc-HMPAO-WBC single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) was 94% for both detection and localization of CIED-associated infection. SPECT/CT imaging had a definite added diagnostic value over both planar and stand-alone SPECT. Pocket infection was often associated with lead(s) involvement; the intracardiac portion of the lead(s) more frequently exhibited 99mTc-HMPAO-WBC accumulation and presented the highest rate of complications, infectious endocarditis, and septic embolism. Two false negative cases and no false positive results were observed. None of the patients with negative 99mTc-HMPAO-WBC scintigraphy developed CIED-related infection during follow-up of 12 months. Echography of the cardiac region/venous pathway of the device had 90% specificity, but low sensitivity (81% when intracardiac lead[s] infection only was considered). The Duke criteria had 31% sensitivity for the definite category (100% specificity) and 81% for the definite and possible categories (77% specificity). Conclusions 99mTc-HMPAO-WBC scintigraphy enabled the confirmation of the presence of CIED-associated infection, definition of the extent of device involvement, and detection of associated complications. Moreover, 99mTc-HMPAO-WBC scintigraphy reliably excluded device-associated infection during a febrile episode and sepsis, with 95% negative predictive value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1086
Number of pages12
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Tc-HMPAO- WBCs
  • cardiac device infection
  • disease burden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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