SPECT (single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)

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SPECT (single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)
SPECT (single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)

Video: SPECT (single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)

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Video: Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) Part 1 2023, January

SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography)

Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a nuclear medicine examination in which a radioactively labeled substance - a so-called tracer - is administered and its distribution in the body is then measured. It is based on the technique of scintigraphy. Above all, metabolic processes in the body can be displayed three-dimensionally using SPECT. Three-dimensional SPECT images can be generated from the heart muscle, bones, adrenal glands and the brain, among other things…


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  • When is a SPECT necessary?
  • What preparations are required?
  • How is the examination performed?
  • What side effects / complications can occur?
  • Where is SPECT performed?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

When is a SPECT necessary?

The SPECT is mainly used for the diagnosis of heart, bone and brain diseases, less often for cancer and thyroid diseases. Frequent areas of application are the examination of the blood flow in the heart muscle tissue, for example if a vascular narrowing is suspected or for checking after an operation on the coronary arteries. Changes in bone metabolism, for example in the case of inflammation or bone metastases, can also be localized. Examining the brain can reveal evidence of epilepsy, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's.

What preparations are required?

Depending on the organ examined, the patient is informed of what to look out for in advance of the examination. She / he is informed, for example, whether and for how long nothing may be eaten or drunk. The radioactive substances are often injected into the arm vein or given in a paste. In rare cases, the substances have to be inhaled - for example when the ventilation of the lungs is being examined. The waiting time until the tracer has accumulated in sufficient quantities in the target organ is between ten minutes and two hours. During this time, the patient should sit or lie quietly. Only in cardiac examinations under stress does the patient have to move on a kind of home trainer before the examination. The clothes can be kept ononly metallic objects are to be put down or pockets to be emptied (belts, coins, keys, necklaces, etc.).

How is the examination performed?

The patient is given a small amount of a short-lived radioactive

drug (tracer). For the examination, s / he lies comfortably and - as motionless as possible - on his / her back. The examination table moves slowly with the patient through the ring-shaped SPECT scanner. This works largely silently. The actual recordings take a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the region of the body. The images are then reconstructed and evaluated on the computer.

What side effects / complications can occur?

The examination is not painful, lying quietly can be a little uncomfortable. The radiopharmaceuticals themselves have no side effects. However, some people are allergic to it. Therefore, the doctor should be informed about possible allergies before the examination. SPECT is a relatively low-risk examination procedure. The radiation exposure from the examination is low and can no longer be detected after a few hours.

Note For safety reasons, the patient should avoid close physical contact with small children and pregnant women for two hours. No precautionary measures are necessary towards other people.

After the examination, the patient should drink plenty of water and empty the bladder frequently.

pregnancy and breast feeding period

A risk to the child in the womb is not to be expected due to the low radiation exposure. Nevertheless, the examination is only carried out in pregnant women if there is no alternative without radiation exposure and it is absolutely necessary. Radioactive drugs can pass into breast milk.

Note If you are pregnant or if a pregnancy cannot be ruled out with certainty, please inform the attending physician. Furthermore, breastfeeding mothers should inform the doctor accordingly.

Where is SPECT performed?

The SPECT is carried out either in special institutes or in hospitals with a nuclear medicine department. The examination is usually carried out on an outpatient basis; the patient can go home after the examination. A bank transfer is required.

The examination itself is carried out by a radiology technologist. After the images have been created, the findings are made by the specialist in nuclear medicine.

You can find hospitals (with a nuclear medicine department) in your area under Clinic search

How are the costs going to be covered?

You need a referral for a SPECT exam. In principle, this is only issued by specialists and is valid for one month from the date of issue. Authorization from the chief physician is required for the health insurance providers to assume the costs.

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