Tag Archives: White Blood Cell Scan

How do you know if a sinus infection is osteomyelitis?

I have had osteomyelitis in the sinus on more than one occasion   The pain was so intense and the typical antibiotics were not making me well.  My ENT consulted a colleague who suggested that I have a Gallium Scan.  The colleague thought that I might have osteomyelitis (an infection in the bone).  This was my ENT’s first encounter with someone who possibly could have osteomyelitis.  I was directed to the x-ray department of our local hospital to have the test done.

A Gallium Scan is a test using radioactive material called gallium to look for swelling, infection or cancer in the body.  The scan is a type of nuclear medical exam.  

I arrived at the lab and was injected with  radioactive gallium into a vein in my arm.  I was told that the gallium would travel through my blood stream and if I had a bone infection it would collect in the bone.  I was instructed to go home and come back a few hours later to allow the gallium time to travel through the blood stream.  When I returned to the lab I was placed on a table and was instructed to lie still while a special camera able to detect gallium would see whether it had gathered in my sinuses.  The test took me about thirty minutes.  The result was that I did, indeed, have a bone infection in my sinuses.  The treatment was six weeks of IV antibiotics.

After six weeks of IV therapy I was once again sent to the lab.  The best way to determine if the infection was gone was to have a White Blood Cell Scan.  Again,  radioactive material was used. My blood was drawn and the white blood cells were isolated and tagged radioactively and re-injected into my arm.  A scan was done a day later to see if the radioactively tagged white blood cells settled in the sinuses.  While the test showed I was over the infection, I was uncertain because I still did not feel great and that little voice in my head said the battle wasn’t over.  I was so right!

The question of how you know if a sinus infection is osteomyelitis was a search question.  I think the Gallium Scan is probably the most definitive test from what I have read and is the test my doctor used.  CT Scans and MRI’s can be ordered but may not show the entire picture.  I would love to show you a picture of a Gallium Scan but don’t want to risk copyright infringement.  Just imagine a typical x-ray with a bright yellow glow.  The bright yellow glow is the radioactive gallium that pooled in my sinuses.

This is my experience with detecting whether or not my sinus infection was a typical infection or osteomyelitis of the sinus.  Only a medical practioner can make the determination of whether or not someone has osteomyelitis based on symptoms and tests that he or she chooses to prescribe.

Still ill after second operation for sinusitis

Hello Everyone

I check to see what search engine terms are used to draw visitors to my blog.  When I see one like the title in this post, I just want to be able to tell the person right then and there my story and be able to offer consolation.  I have decided that periodically I will take some of these search terms and write about my experience.

I began getting sick in August of 1999.  I had the first sinus surgery in November of that same year followed a few months later in March of 2000 with surgery number two.  We still had not been able to prove what was causing the severe pain and constant infections I was getting even though by then I was getting black string-like fibers coming out in my sinus discharge.  This was followed a month later by six weeks of IV therapy for a bone infection in the sinuses.  When I responded to the IV and my White Blood Scan came back good, the IV was discontinued.  A White Blood Scan requires drawing blood, tagging the white blood cells radioactively, re-injecting them and waiting to see if any of these radioactive cells return to the sinuses signalling that the infection is still present.

As with the way my life was going, I became ill a few weeks after discontinuing the IV and had sinus surgery number three on August 1, 2000.  During this surgery we discovered that I indeed had a fungal infection.

Treatment for the fungal infection began and over the next three years I had three more surgeries.

While I still have to irrigate my sinuses daily, deal with infections that come at me from nowhere (especially when the fungus gets active), I have not required a sinus surgery for nearly ten years now and haven’t had the need for IV antibiotics.

I think the person searching for help most likely has an undiagnosed fungal infection if the second surgery hasn’t helped.  Just wish I could have told him/her to have cultures taken.  It sometimes takes more than one culture because fungi don’t like to grow outside their nice little environments.

For those of you viewing for the first time, feel free to leave a comment and please sign up to follow me.  If the person had left a comment, I would have replied to the comment.  There is a lot to my story and that is why I have chosen to write my book which I hope to get printed in the next few months.