SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) scans belong to a specialized class of diagnostic nuclear medicine, or nuclear imaging scans, which provide more detailed images than either X-ray or MRI technology. Prior to the SPECT scan, a very small amount of tracer material, a diagnostic injection solution that helps to detect dopamine transporters (DaT), is injected into a vein by a nuclear medicine technologist.
Like X-rays and MRIs, SPECT scans can be done on an outpatient basis. But while X-rays take images of the body’s structures in 2D form, and MRIs can produce images of the body’s internal structure in 3D form, DaTSCAN™ is actually able to show the body part or internal organ’s functions, including blood flow, which can help doctors to identify how medications, treatments, and injuries affect the vital organs. DaTSCAN™ has been available in Europe since 2000, and received approval by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2011.
Why Would my Doctor Order a DaTSCAN™?
Your doctor may order a DaTSCAN™ to confirm or rule out a diagnosis, or to see how a medication is affecting your brain or internal organs. SPECT scans may also be ordered to help diagnose or monitor conditions affecting the bones and the internal organs, especially the heart and the brain, and even to manage and stage cancer.
DaTSCAN™ allows physicians to see which areas of the brain are responding to various stimuli, making it particularly helpful in confirming diagnoses as movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinsonian Syndrome, and Essential Tremor. DaTSCAN™ can also be helpful in diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injury (TBI), attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and more.
How do I prepare for my DaTSCAN™?
Your doctor will review your medical history, and provide general instructions before scheduling your procedure. There is no specific prep for DaTSCAN, and there are only 3 simple instructions. You’ll need to drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of your procedure. The day before your procedure you’ll need to pick up your medication, and you’ll need to take your medication as prescribed the night before your procedure. On the day of your procedure, you will arrive early for an injection. After receiving your injection, you may leave and return when scheduled for your procedure. (Generally 3½ hours later.)
What happens during a DaTSCAN™?
During a DaTSCAN™, a very small amount of tracer, specific for the organ or tissue to be scanned, is injected into a vein by a nuclear medicine technologist. Images may be taken during the injection, immediately after the injection, or following a delayed period to allow the tracer to distribute to the organ or tissue of interest. The gamma rays emitted by the tracer are detected by a special camera that is positioned near the organ or part of the body being imaged.
You will need to remain very still for the camera, but it will not touch you. The radiation from a nuclear medicine procedure is comparable to that received during a routine X-ray. The tracer only remains in the body for a short period of time before being eliminated in the urine or stool.
Why Choose Independent Imaging for my DaTSCAN™?
Independent Imaging has been putting patients first for over 30 years. Our imaging centers in Wellington, Belle Glade, Lake Worth, and Royal Palm Beach, Florida are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology. Our board-certified radiologists are happy to answer any questions you may have, and we offer extended hours six days a week to accommodate our patients and referring physicians.