Brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) is a technology that allows your physician to see how blood is flowing through different areas of your brain. A SPECT brain scan can show how well the various regions of your brain are functioning.
To fully evaluate a patient's symptoms, information on both the brain's structure (anatomy) and its blood supply is often necessary. CT and MRI provide detailed information on the structure of the brain. However, in many patients the symptoms cannot be completely explained by anatomic changes, or these scans may appear normal. Brain SPECT can often provide important information on blood flow that would not be available through these other diagnostic techniques. Brain SPECT can also be used to evaluate the success of various treatments.
You will be imaged shortly after injection of the radiopharmaceutical.
Preparation may take about a half-hour, and the SPECT imaging procedure takes about a half-hour.
Before the Procedure
Brain SPECT doesn't require fasting, special diets, or medication. If you're not in the hospital, you can continue your regular work schedule and lifestyle. Many people drive to the hospital or clinic, park, and walk in for the brain SPECT scan.
On the day of the exam you will check in at the Nuclear Medicine Department. The technologist will have you lie on your back in a quiet, private room. An intravenous catheter or needle will be placed in a vein in your arm or hand, and a radiopharmaceutical will be injected soon afterward. You will then be asked to continue lying quietly for another 1 hour.
When it is time for the examination, you will lie down on the padded examination table. The SPECT camera, capable of imaging the areas of the brain where the radiopharmaceutical has accumulated, will be moved toward the area of interest. The closer the camera is to the specific area, the better the images of the blood flowing in the brain will be.
Follwing the exam, you may go home and continue your regular activities.