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Technetium tc-99m labeled red blood cells, diagnostic, per study dose, up to 30 millicuries

HCPCS code

Name of the Procedure:

Technetium Tc-99m Labeled Red Blood Cells Scan
(Common name: Tc-99m RBC Scan, Medical term: Technetium Tc-99m Labeled Red Blood Cells)


A Technetium Tc-99m labeled red blood cells scan is a diagnostic imaging test where a small amount of radioactive material is attached to your red blood cells to help highlight blood flow and organ function. This test provides important information about various conditions affecting cardiovascular or organ health.


The Tc-99m RBC scan is used to assess blood volume, detect areas of internal bleeding, and evaluate the cardiovascular system. It helps to diagnose conditions like gastrointestinal bleeding, heart disorders, and spleen pathology. The primary goal is to provide a clear visual of blood distribution and possible anomalies.


  • Unexplained internal bleeding
  • Suspected gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Cardiovascular conditions such as heart valve issues or abnormal blood flow
  • Evaluation of spleen size and function

Patient criteria typically include individuals experiencing unexplained internal bleeding, chronic anemia, or certain cardiovascular symptoms.


  • You may need to fast for a few hours before the procedure.
  • Inform your doctor of any medications you are taking; some may need to be adjusted.
  • A blood sample is often taken to label the red blood cells with the Tc-99m tracer.

Procedure Description

  1. A sample of your blood is drawn.
  2. Red blood cells are separated and mixed with a small amount of Technetium Tc-99m.
  3. The labeled red blood cells are injected back into your bloodstream.
  4. Special imaging equipment (gamma camera) takes pictures over time as the labeled cells circulate through your body.
  5. Depending on the study’s goal, imaging can occur immediately or after a delay.

No general anesthesia is needed, and the procedure is relatively pain-free apart from the blood draw and injection.


The procedure typically takes 1 to 3 hours, including preparation and imaging time.


The Tc-99m RBC scan is usually performed in the nuclear medicine department of a hospital or outpatient radiology clinic.


The procedure is carried out by a nuclear medicine technologist and supervised by a radiologist or nuclear medicine physician. A nurse may also assist.

Risks and Complications

  • Exposure to a small amount of radiation
  • Minor discomfort at the injection site
  • Rare allergic reactions to the tracer

Rare complications could include infection or issues related to blood drawing.


  • Provides valuable diagnostic information
  • Non-invasive and generally safe
  • Helps to pinpoint the source of internal bleeding or evaluates organ function

Benefits are usually realized quickly after the images are interpreted by the radiologist.


  • You can usually return to normal activities immediately.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the radioactive material from your body.
  • Follow-up appointments may be scheduled to discuss the results.


  • Endoscopy for gastrointestinal bleeding
  • MRI or CT scan for detailed imaging
  • Ultrasound for specific cardiovascular studies

Each alternative has its pros and cons; for example, MRI provides high detail but can be more expensive, while ultrasound is less invasive but less detailed for certain conditions.

Patient Experience

Patients typically experience minimal discomfort during the blood draw and injection. You may feel slightly tired or experience mild bruising at the injection site. Pain management is generally not necessary, and measures like hydration and rest can ensure comfort post-procedure.

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