Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT): what it is and when to perform it

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) is a recent diagnostic test that allows computer reconstruction of scintigraphic images relating to the distribution of a radioactive tracer substance introduced in small doses into the patient’s body to measure certain biological and biochemical processes

It is similar to PET, but is based on the use of radioactive compounds that emit gamma radiation directly.

What Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) is used for

Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography is used for the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases (heart attack and heart disease), brain and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy).

It is also used in the diagnosis of tumours and visualisation of the endocrine or skeletal system.

How SPECT tomography is performed

Small doses of radioactive tracer substances are injected into the patient’s body.

Then the subject is ‘scanned’ by a gamma-camera (a device capable of detecting gamma radiation) that rotates around him or her, acquiring the necessary images.

After acquisition, the images are reprocessed and displayed by computer.

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