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F.A.Q.'s | FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SPECT SCAN
 | Credited to Dr. Amen, M.D.

 
How long does a Spect Scan take?
About 2 hours

What is SPECT brain imaging?
SPECT brain imaging is tomographic or rotational images, which show the brain from several different angles.

Why do I need SPECT brain imaging?
You need SPECT brain imaging to help your doctor see blood flow to the brain.

How do I prepare for my SPECT brain imaging?
There is really no preparation for SPECT brain imaging. Some medications may be given to patients who may be unable to lie still.

What can I expect during the test? You will be injected with a radiopharmaceutical one hour before imaging begins. Next, your head will be positioned in a holder and strapped across the forehead to help you hold it still. Your neck is flexed in order to get the cerebellum included in the field of view. You will be lying on your back for approximately 20 minutes.

What do I do after my brain SPECT imaging?
There are no special instructions after the imaging is completed. You will get the test results from your doctor, or through a follow-up appointment with Dr. Kohn.



PREPARATION FOR A SPECT BRAIN SCAN

Can I eat or drink before the exam?

Yes! Brain SPECT doesn't require fasting, special diets, or medication. If you're not in the hospital, you can continue your regular work schedule and lifestyle. Many people drive to the hospital or clinic, park, and walk in for the brain SPECT scan.

What can I expect?

On the day of the exam you will check in at the SPECT lab. The nuclear medicine technologist will ask you some important questions, such as: Are you pregnant? Is there any chance that you may be pregnant? Do you have a history of head injury, seizures, or stroke? Next, the technologist will have you lie on your back in a quiet, darkened room, which may or may not be the examination room. An intravenous catheter or needle will be placed in a vein in your arm or hand, and a radiopharmaceutical will be injected soon afterward. You will then be asked to continue lying quietly for another 10 to 20 minutes. When it is time for the examination, you will lie down on the padded examination table. The SPECT camera, capable of imaging the areas of your brain where the radiopharmaceutical has accumulated, will be moved near your head.

 

For the activation scan, an intravenous catheter or needle will be placed in a vein in your arm or hand, and a radiopharmaceutical will be injected soon afterward. You will then be asked to complete a test on a computer. After the computer test, you will lie down on the padded examination table. The SPECT camera, capable of imaging the areas of your brain where the radiopharmaceutical has accumulated, will be moved near your head.

Will I feel anything when the drug is injected?

You will feel only a small prick from the needle when it is placed in the vein. The injection itself is painless if the needle is properly placed. Adverse reactions to the radiopharmaceutical are very rare, and when they do occur, usually involve only a mild, self-limited skin reaction such as a rash.

Is the radiopharmaceutical a dye?

No, it is a radioactive agent that will localize in an area of the brain and will be imaged with a camera.

How long will the exam take?

You will be imaged shortly after injection of the radiopharmaceutical. Preparation may take about a half-hour, and the SPECT imaging procedure takes about a half-hour.  top of page



PROCEDURE FOR A SPECT BRAIN SCAN

The SPECT camera will take a series of pictures of your head that will show how well blood flows through the various areas of your brain. The only noise you will hear will be the mechanical rotation of the camera, which is only a slight noise. There are no loud noises associated with the examination.

Will the SPECT camera touch me?

The camera will rotate once around your head and may lightly brush against the tops of your shoulders. Otherwise, no part of the machinery will touch your body.

Will I be enclosed in a small confined space?

No. However, the camera will be close to your head throughout the exam.

What should I do during the examination?

Simply relax, and follow the technologist's instructions. Your only participation will be to remain as still as possible during the exam and breathe normally. It is very important for you to be comfortable before the scan begins. Movement of the head while the pictures are being taken may require that the scan be repeated. The technologist will keep you informed about what is going on. Once the picture taking is over, you can relax, read, have a cup of coffee. The technologist will process the pictures taken by the SPECT camera.

Will I feel anything during the exam?

Not a thing... the SPECT brain scan is painless.

Who will be with me?

A technologist will be in the examination area, where he/she can constantly see and hear you.    top of page


FOLLOWING THE PROCEDURE

How much radiation exposure will I receive as a result of this exam?

The total body radiation exposure from a SPECT brain scan is small - in the range of 1 to 3 times your annual exposure to natural background radiation.

When will I get the results of my exam?

A report describing the findings of your SPECT brain scan will be sent to you and your referring provider, who will then contact you.  If you are a patient of the Kohn Group, Dr. Robert G. Kohn will meet with you to go over your brain SPECT images.    top of page


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