The role of Gallium and labeled leukocyte scintigraphy in the AIDS patient
AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Because AIDS patients frequently present with minimal symptomatology, radionuclide imaging with its ability to survey the entire body, is especially valuable. Gallium-67 citrate, the most commonly performed radionuclide study for localizing infection in these patients, is most useful for detecting opportunistic infections, especially in the thorax. A negative gallium scan, particularly when the chest X-ray is unremarkable, rules strongly against pulmonary disease. A negative gallium scan in a patient with an abnormal chest X-ray and Kaposi's sarcoma, suggests that the patient's respiratory distress is related to the neoplasm. Diffuse pulmonary parenchymal uptake of gallium in the HIV (+) patient is most often associated with PCP. While there are other causes of diffuse pulmonary uptake, the more intense or heterogeneous the uptake, the more likely the patient is to have PCP. Focal pulmonary uptake is usually associated with bacterial pneumonia although PCP may occasionally present in this fashion. Lymph node uptake of gallium is usually associated with Mycobacterium avium complex, tuberculosis, or lymphoma. When corresponding abnormalities are present on thallium scintigraphy lymphoma is likely. Gallium positive, thallium negative, studies suggest mycobacterial disease. Labeled leukocyte imaging is not useful for detecting opportunistic infections probably because of the inflammatory response incited by these organisms. Leukocyte imaging is, however, more sensitive for detecting bacterial pneumonia. In the abdomen, gallium imaging is most useful for identifying lymphadenopathy, while labeled leukocyte imaging is superior for detecting AIDS-associated colitides. In summary, radionuclide studies are valuable diagnostic modalities in AIDS. Their success can be maximized by tailoring the study to the individual's needs.