What is SPECT?

Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a nuclear imaging test involving blood flow to tissue, is used to evaluate certain brain functions.  The test may be ordered as a follow-up to an MRI to diagnose brain and spinal cord tumors, infections, degenerative spinal disease, and stress fractures. 

As with a PET scan, a radioactive isotope, which binds to chemicals that flow to the brain, is injected intravenously into the body. Areas of increased blood flow will collect more of the isotope.  As the patient lies on a table, a gamma camera rotates around the head and records where the radioisotope has traveled.  That information is converted by computer into cross-sectional slices that are stacked to produce a detailed three-dimensional image of blood flow and activity within the brain.  The test is performed at either an imaging center or a hospital.


Reference: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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