What is NeuroSPECT Imaging? NeuroSPECT imaging is a nuclear medicine procedure that uses a small dose of a radioactive substance by intravenous injection that will give your doctor information on the cerebral blood flow and activity patterns of your brain.
What is the purpose of the NeuroSPECT Imaging Procedure? The information from the SPECT studies will help your doctor understand your specific brain patterns, which may further help in your evaluation and treatment.
Will the SPECT study give me an accurate medical diagnosis? A SPECT study by itself will not give a medical diagnosis. SPECT imaging helps the physicians to understand more about the specific function of your brain. Each person’s brain is unique which may lead to unique responses to medicine or therapy.
Why are NeuroSPECT studies ordered? Some of the common reasons include: Evaluating suspected seizure activity. Evaluating suspected cerebral vascular disease. Evaluating cognitive decline and suspected dementia or other memory problems. Evaluating the effects of mild, moderate and severe head trauma. Evaluating the presence of a suspected underlying organic brain condition, such as seizure activity, that contributes to behavioral or emotional disturbance. Evaluating aggressive or suicidal behavior. Evaluating the extent of brain impairment caused by drug or alcohol abuse or other toxic exposure. Subtyping the physiology underlying mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or attention deficit disorders, evaluating atypical, unresponsive or mixed psychiatric condition, following up to evaluate the physiological effects of treatment, general brain health check up.
Do I need to be off medication before the study? This question must be answered individually between you and your doctor. In general, it is better to be off medications until they are out of your system, but this is not always practical or advisable. If the study is done while on medication make sure to note it on the appropriate forms. In general, we recommend patients try to be off stimulants at least four days before the first scan and remain off of them until after the second scan is done (if you are having two scans). Medications such as Prozac (which lasts in the body 4-6 weeks) are generally not stopped because of practicality. Check with your specific doctor for recommendations.
What should I do the day of the scan? On the day of the scan eliminate your caffeine intake and try to not take cold medication or aspirin (if you do please write it down on the intake form). Eat as you normally would.
Are there any side effects or risks to the study? The study does not involve a dye and people do not have allergic reactions to the study. The possibility exists, although in a very small percentage of patients, of a mild rash, facial redness and edema, fever and a transient increase in blood pressure. The amount of radiation exposure from one brain SPECT study is approximately 2/3rd of a head CT scan. Rarely, patients have reported green urine after the procedure for a day or two.
How is the SPECT procedure done? The imaging agent is injected through a small intravenous (IV) tube in the arm of the patient. Following the injection, the patient lies on a table and the SPECT camera rotates around his/her head (the patient does not go into atube). The time on the table varies from 25-30 minutes. The study is then read within the next few days. Pictures are made available to the patient’s treatment professionals.
Are there alternatives to having a SPECT study? In our opinion, NeuroSPECT is the most clinically useful study of brain function for the indications listed above. There are other studies, such as electroencephalograms (EEGs), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) studies and functional MRIs (fMRI). PET studies and fMRI are considerably more costly and they are performed mostly in research settings. EEGs, in our opinion, do not provide enough information about the deep structures of the brain to be as helpful as NeuroSPECT studies.
Do I have to have the SPECT study performed at NeuroSPECT of Florida, LLC? SPECT studies may be performed at other clinics; however, many doctors and patients utilize our services because NeuroSPECT of Florida specializes in performing and interpreting SPECT studies for the above indications.
Does insurance cover the cost of SPECT studies? Reimbursement by insurance companies varies according to your plan. It is often a good idea to check with the insurance company to see if it is a covered benefit.
Is the use of brain SPECT imaging accepted in the medical community? NeuroSPECT studies are widely recognized as an effective tool for evaluating brain function in seizures, strokes, dementia and head trauma. There are literally thousands of research articles on these topics
Brian Baldwin CNMT, RT(N) – Nuclear Medicine Technologist