Frequently Asked Questions
Information for Patients
How does high definition brain imaging work?
A SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) brain scan is a nuclear medicine study that utilizes a radiopharmaceutical to create images of actual brain function by identifying blood flow patterns throughout the brain. Because blood delivers oxygen and other nutrients to brain cells, it’s an important measure of brain function. Too much blood flow or too little blood flow in given areas of the brain may be indicative of specific disorders. CereScan’s high definition functional brain scans can precisely measure blood flow in up to 120 regions of the brain. A brain SPECT scan can assist your doctor in making a more accurate diagnosis.
A PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography) brain scan measures metabolic rate in the same regions of the brain. The only thing that a neuron metabolizes is glucose and it needs oxygen to do so. Thus, a PET/CT scan is measuring how much and how well the neurons in your brain are “digesting” glucose.
Your doctor will decide which type of brain scan is right for you.
How is SPECT and PET imaging different than CT or MRI scans?
CT and MRI scans provide detailed information on the anatomical structure of the brain only. In order to fully evaluate a patient’s symptoms, information on the brain’s structure (anatomy) as well as its function (blood flow and metabolism) is often necessary. In many cases, the structure of the brain can be normal, while the function is abnormal. However, in other cases, a patient’s symptoms may persist even though MRI or simple CT scans are found to be “normal.” Brain SPECT imaging reveals the function of the brain by measuring blood flow, while PET imaging measures metabolic function in the brain. Consider this analogy: A picture of your car’s engine (structure) shows you all of the parts but cannot give you information about how well the engine is running (functioning). Our brain scans provide important information about how your brain is functioning. In addition, because we have a PET/CT camera, we combine both structure and function for a more comprehensive assessment.
How do I make an appointment to receive a high definition brain scan?
Patients are advised to consult with their medical provider in order to obtain a written referral or order for a functional brain scan at CereScan, as well as any needed post-scan treatment. CereScan requires a physician or licensed medical provider to write a referral for all patients.
Are there any side effects or risks to the brain imaging procedure?
The study does not involve a contrast agent or dye, so allergic reactions are very rare. If one does occur it usually involves only a mild, skin reaction such as a rash at the site of the intravenous injection. Please let the technologist know if you experience any unusual symptoms during or after the injection of the radioisotope.
Is high definition brain imaging safe for children?
Our Medical Imaging Team at CereScan supports the national Image Gently campaign and its recommended Nuclear Medicine practices. The goal of Image Gently is to create awareness of the differential effects of radiation on a child versus an adult. We promise to image gently.
No two children are exactly alike. When answers are hard to find (for emotionally or behaviorally challenged children), CereScan helps families find solutions. Our diagnostic imaging techniques can identify a variety of mental health conditions in complex cases. Together with our staff of medical experts, we help you and your child’s medical team receive the information needed to reach an accurate diagnosis and obtain the best treatment available.
We are one of the first “brain dedicated” clinics of its kind in the country where children, as well as adults, are given the highest level of care available. Children as young as six years old are able to receive a brain scan that can assist their pediatric medical professional in developing an accurate diagnosis and therefore, the best treatment plan for their condition. Our combination of industry leading experience and personal attention only begins to tell the story of why CereScan helps so many children nationwide. From your first call to your last, we strive to provide you and your child with the help your family needs.
Is the use of brain SPECT imaging accepted in the medical community?
While functional brain imaging is not considered an exact science for diagnosing psychiatric conditions, there are hundreds of peer-reviewed, published research studies utilizing SPECT for the evaluation of these conditions.