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SPECT Brain Scans

May 31st, 2007 · No Comments

Standard brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and CAT (computerized axial tomography) scans are anatomical studies, and although they can evaluate what a brain looks like physically, they cannot provide information on how well the brain works.

SPECT is an acronym for “Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography”, and it is a sophisticated nuclear medicine study that “looks” directly at cerebral blood flow and indirectly at brain activity (for metabolism).

A small amount of radioactive isotope is injected into the patient’s vein, where it runs through the bloodstream and into the brain. The patient then lies on a table for a few minutes while a SPECT “gamma” camera rotates slowly around the head. A supercomputer then reconstructs offline images of brain activity levels.

Daniel G. Amen, M.D., an Internationally recognized expert in brain imaging and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry, uses the studies to help in the diagnosis of head trauma, dementia, atypical or unresponsive mood disorders, strokes, seizures, atypical or unresponsive aggressive behavior and the impact of drug abuse on brain function. Dr. Amen has written numerous books including, Change your Brain, Change Your Life. He has taken thousands of brain scans comparing normal brains and “drug abused” brains and his work indicates that brain scans of people who have abused drugs showed abnormalities.

Another reason to stay off drugs.

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Tags: Drugs and Brain Disorders

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