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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 59-60

Intravenous blood pool activity masquerading as gastrointestinal hemorrhage

Department of Radiology, Nuclear Medicine Service, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, USA

Date of Submission01-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance18-Jul-2019
Date of Web Publication07-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Scott A Fleming
Department of Radiology, Nuclear Medicine Service, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 8901 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20889
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/wjnm.WJNM_28_19

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Radiolabeled red blood cell (RBC) scintigraphy is a common study to detect and localize gastrointestinal hemorrhage. There are many potential entities that may result in false-positive RBC scintigraphy. Here, we present a case of enlarged feeding vessels of omental carcinomatosis which scintigraphically might be mistaken as intraluminal bowel activity and thus active hemorrhage. This case highlights the importance of reviewing correlative imaging in patients with a large neoplastic burden.

Keywords: Altered blood pool anatomy, false-positive bleed, omental carcinomatosis, red blood cell scintigraphy

How to cite this article:
Fleming SA, Keenan AM. Intravenous blood pool activity masquerading as gastrointestinal hemorrhage. World J Nucl Med 2020;19:59-60

How to cite this URL:
Fleming SA, Keenan AM. Intravenous blood pool activity masquerading as gastrointestinal hemorrhage. World J Nucl Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 May 23];19:59-60. Available from: http://www.wjnm.org/text.asp?2020/19/1/59/271134

   Introduction Top

Effective therapy for acute gastrointestinal (GI) bleed requires precise localization of the hemorrhage site. Red blood cell (RBC)-labeled scintigraphy is a common imaging modality for detecting the location of a lower GI bleed. Its increased sensitivity for low flow bleeds compared to fluoroscopic and computed tomography (CT) angiography (CTA) make it an important part of the lower GI bleed treatment algorithm. This report describes a vascular abnormality secondary to omental carcinomatosis, which could lead to a false-positive interpretation if not corroborated with other anatomic imaging.

   Case Report Top

A 71-year-old male with biopsy-proven metastatic renal cell carcinoma and current warfarin therapy for recurrent pulmonary embolism was admitted to the intensive care unit after presenting with suspected intra-abdominal blood loss. CTA was performed but failed to show a definitive source of hemorrhage; however, complex peritoneal fluid was identified and appeared denser near the prior partial nephrectomy site. Endoscopy was not performed. After intravenous administration of 1.017 GBq (27.5 mCi) of99m Tc-radiolabeled autologous erythrocytes, the patient underwent dynamic anterior planar imaging for 90 min. RBC scintigraphy demonstrated serpiginous areas of increased activity which did not move or change in intensity [Figure 1]a. Comparison with three-dimensional rendering of CTA acquired earlier showed enlarged gastroepiploic and splenic arteries supplying omental carcinomatosis [Figure 1]b corresponding to abnormal activity seen on scintigraphy. Recent18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/CT demonstrated a large metastatic burden, particularly to the omentum [Figure 1]c and [Figure 1]d.
Figure 1: Anterior static scintigraphic image of99mTc-radiolabeled autologous erythrocytes (a), along with a color-labeled three-dimensional reconstruction of the patient's recent computed tomography angiography of the abdomen and pelvis. Serpiginous-shaped activity on scintigraphy (b)corresponds to the enlarged gastroepiploic (arrows) and splenic (arrowheads) arteries supplying the omental carcinomatosis (asterisks). A single-slice coronal18F-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography fusion image (c) and the maximal intensity projection from the same study (d) highlight the fluorodeoxyglucose avid metastatic burden in the left lower quadrant (asterisks)

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   Discussion Top

The serpiginous activity on scintigraphy could be misconstrued for intraluminal activity and hemorrhage, although the activity failed to move or change in intensity. Scintigraphic criteria for active GI bleeding include radiotracer outside expected blood pool structures, increasing intensity over time, and anterograde or retrograde movement conforming to the bowel.[1],[2],[3] However, movement consistent with bowel would not be required for diagnosing peritoneal or retroperitoneal hemorrhage.[4],[5],[6] In this case, the patient's prior CTA demonstrated that the cause of the abnormal scintigraphic findings was due to enlarged feeding vessels of the omental carcinomatosis.

Other potential entities that have been reported to cause false-positive RBC scintigraphy include varices, hematomas, aneurysms, and hemangiomas.[7],[8],[9],[10] If no correlative imaging is available, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/CT could be performed to aid in defining the abnormal distribution and confirm the findings. Unfortunately, the patient was unable to undergo SPECT/CT due to his critical condition.

This case highlights the importance of reviewing correlative imaging prior to scintigraphy in patients with large neoplastic burdens where blood pool anatomy can be significantly altered. In our patient, we were able to anticipate how the abnormal vasculature and large masses might alter the scintigraphic appearance. It is recommended to review recent CT and magnetic resonance imaging beforehand to understand the patient's anatomy and any abnormal variants or pathology which might hinder correct interpretation of the study.[1]

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Dam HQ, Brandon DC, Grantham VV, Hilson AJ, Howarth DM, Maurer AH, et al. The SNMMI procedure standard/EANM practice guideline for gastrointestinal bleeding scintigraphy 2.0. J Nucl Med Technol 2014;42:308-17.  Back to cited text no. 1
Uliel L, Mellnick VM, Menias CO, Holz AL, McConathy J. Nuclear medicine in the acute clinical setting: Indications, imaging findings, and potential pitfalls. Radiographics 2013;33:375-96.  Back to cited text no. 2
Zuckier LS. Acute gastrointestinal bleeding. Semin Nucl Med 2003;33:297-311.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ben-Haim S, Rezai K. Intraperitoneal bleeding demonstrated by Tc-99m labeled red blood cell scintigraphy. Clin Nucl Med 1992;17:789-90.  Back to cited text no. 4
Czarnecki DJ. Intraperitoneal hemorrhage diagnosed by technetium-99m labeled RBC imaging. Clin Nucl Med 1986;11:617-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Ring DH, Silverman ED. Scintigraphic detection of an occult bleed into a retroperitoneal mass using tc-99m labeled red blood cells. Clin Nucl Med 1997;22:765-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
Angelides S, Gibson MG, Kurtovic J, Riordan S. Abdominal wall hematomata and colonic tumor detected on labeled red blood cell scintigraphy: Case report. Ann Nucl Med 2003;17:399-402.  Back to cited text no. 7
Duarte PS, Zhuang H, Aldighieri F, Ghesani N, Alavi A. Incidental detection of an abdominal aortic aneurysm during evaluation of gastrointestinal bleeding with tc-99m-tagged erythrocytes. Clin Nucl Med 2002;27:824.  Back to cited text no. 8
Gandhi SJ. Umbilical varices: A potential pitfall in gastrointestinal bleed scintigraphy interpretation. Indian J Nucl Med 2018;33:245-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Taylor RE. Tc-99m-labeled red blood cell scan showing gastrointestinal bleeding point, and also showing an incidental hepatic hemangioma. Clin Nucl Med 2004;29:211-3.  Back to cited text no. 10


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