About SPECT/CT in general

 

The SPECT test is a nuclear medicinal examination method. During the examination we administer the patient a substance containing radioactive isotope (radiopharmacon) and with detection of the emitted radiation we gain information on functions of the examined organs.

The CT test is a radiological examination method where an X-ray travels through the patient’s body and due to the fact that every organ has a different radiation absorbation we gain information about the shape and structure of them.

Based on the above mentioned it is obvious that with combining the two examination methods we can exploit the advantages of both of them. This way we can gain information on shape and function of the examined organs at the same time.

Why is SPECT/CT better than the distinctly performed SPECT or CT examination?

If we perform a SPECT/CT examination, the images are taken successively while the patient is in lying still in an unchanged position and thus the images fit extensionally. If these examinations are done separately serious computer work has to be done afterwards on the SPECT and CT images in order that they can be synchronized. But even this way the proper result cannot be guaranteed.

With the help of this combined (in special terminology: image fusion) examination the exact place of the abnormality – where the radiopharmacon accumulates – can be determined more accurately.

During the CT examination we can visualize abnormalities only if they cause structural changes in the organ in question, while the SPECT examination visualizes the changes in functions which are not necessarily accompanied by structural changes. This way the abnormality can be detected earlier.
Patients do not have to show up for the two examinations in two different times and this way they can spare money ( for example the costs of travelling).

Where do we use the SPECT/CT examination most frequently?

In case of examinations of bone alterations: the bone scintigraphy shows the site of the bone tissue the metabolism of which has changed in the bony system. With the help of the CT examination we can visualize the structure and build-up of this area and this way we can separate for example the tumor metastasis from a former fracture or degenerative injury.
 
In case of oncological examinations: The extent of the tumor, spreading to the surrounding organs and the site of metastases can be determined. In case of follow-up of cancer patients due to visualization of functional changes the newly developed metastases can be recognized earlier.

Application fields of SPECT-CT examinations:

  • In case of all whole-body scans: MIBI-, Ga-citrate, LeucoScint, I-131, TlCl, In-Octreotid or I-123 or 99mTc Tektrotyd. I-131 MIBG, whole-body joint scintigraphy
  • During examinations of the parathyroid
  • In case of pulmonary scintigraphy
  • During bone scintigraphy, if we observe a suspicious accumulation on the whole-body scan
  • other SPECT tests, for example examination of focal disorders of the liver

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