Thevolvement of the spleen is well recognized in some diseases, such as lymphomas, and very likely in others, such as hemolytic anemias. Structural abnormalities, such as enlargement or functional disturbances, such as accelerated removal of red blood cells (RBCs), are often present. The combination of radioactive tracers and external radiation detectors permits measurement of the rate of uptake and spatial distribution of labeled RBCs in the spleen. We can already visualize splenic structure by scanning, and it may soon be possible to evaluate splenic function in a manner similar to the measurement of the rate of uptake of radioactive iodine by the thyroid.
The method of labeling RBCs with radioactive chromium (51Cr) was discovered in 1950 by Gray and Sterling.1 This technique made possible extensive study of the fate of normal and abnormal erythrocytes.
The technique consists of mixing a few milliliters of venous blood with sodium chromate