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What Are SPECT/CT Scans?

ImageSPECT, or single-photon emission computed tomography, is a particularly effective nuclear-imaging technique that provides images of structures deep within the body. At Northside Hospital, we combine SPECT and advanced multislice CT, or computed tomography, images from one noninvasive patient scan for an advanced level of diagnostic confidence and efficiency. This advanced diagnostic imaging helps us develop individualized treatment plans for patients.

Why Are CT Scans and SPECT Scans Used Together?

Incorporating CT scan data with SPECT images allows physicians to better view the location of, and changes in, tissue. This improved vantage point helps doctors make more informed decisions about treatment options, as well as monitor the responsiveness to those treatments.

Some of the diseases and disorders SPECT images/CT scans have helped detect include:

Brain Disorders

  • Dementia
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • Seizures
  • Encephalitis
  • Head injuries

Heart Problems

  • Clogged arteries
  • Reduced pumping efficiency

Bone Disorders

  • Areas where bone is healing or where cancer is progressing usually show up on SPECT scans. Often, SPECT scans can also be used to diagnose hidden bone injuries.


Preparing for Your SPECT/CT Exam

Here are some important things to remember when preparing for your exam:

  • No eating or drinking for four to six hours before your exam.
  • Notify your physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or diabetic.
  • Do not take any prescribed medication, unless instructed otherwise.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.

What to Expect During Your Exam

The majority of SPECT/CT exams require only a small injection into the vein. The injection is painless and contains a radioactive glucose material. During the exam, you will be asked to lie down on a padded examination table.

If you have a thyroid exam, you will receive a pill rather than an injection. If you have a heart examination, you will undergo a stress test. This is a routine treadmill exercise.

The procedure takes anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours depending on the scan ordered. While lying down, you will be asked to breathe normally while the SPECT/CT scan machines evaluate the affected area. After the exam, you can return to your normal daily routine.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 678-312-3444.