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Encyclopedia > SPECT

SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) is a nuclear medicine tomographic imaging technique using gamma rays. The technique results in a set of image slices through a patient, showing the distribution of a radiopharmaceutical. There are several steps involved in producing the final set of slices.

Firstly a patient is injected with a gamma-emitting radiopharmaceutical. Then a series of projection images are acquired using a gamma camera. The acquisition involves the gamma camera rotating around the patient acquiring images at various positions. The number of images and the rotation angle covered varies depending on the type of investigation required, but a typical example involves the gamma camera rotating 360 degrees around the patient, acquiring 64 equally spaced images.

The projection images are stored digitally and a sophisticated computer program is used to process them and produce the slices (this is called reconstruction). There are a number of different methods for performing the reconstruction. At the time of writing (2004), by far the most commonly used method is 'filtered back projection'.

Other tomographic imaging modalities include:

SPECT tracers

Isotope Emission Half-life Tracer Use
Iodine-123 159 keV 13 h IMP
- - - IBZM Dopamine system: D2 receptor

Several other agents are also used, see Cardiac stress testing.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Why Don't Psychiatrists Look at the Brain? (3597 words)
Her SPECT study revealed markedly decreased perfusion in the anterior and posterior aspects of her left temporal lobe, a coup-contrecoup injury, and decreased activity in the inferior orbital prefrontal cortex (see Figure 5).
J's SPECT study was highly abnormal, showing marked hyperperfusion in the anterior cingulate gyrus as well as significant hypoperfusion in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes (see Figures 7, 8, and 9).
SPECT studies may also help to break through the psychological barriers that people with substance abuse problems often erect: When patients are faced with vivid images of the abnormal cerebral perfusion in their own brains, it is harder for them to remain in denial about their problem.
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