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>>Brain tomoscintigraphy

Brain tomoscintigraphyThe brain tomoscintigraphy (also frequently called SPECT : Single Photon Emission Tomography) is useful to diagnose numerous neurological disorders.
Cerebrovascular disease, including stroke and transient ischemic attack can be diagnosed early after the onset of the event (<24 hours), allowing a precise evaluation of the functional damage and an adequate therapeutic approach.

With increasing expectancy of life, neurodegenerative disorders are more frequently observed. They can generate a problem of differential diagnosis, especially in geriatrics. Brain SPECT helps to differentiate several neurodegenerative diseases (vascular dementia, frontal dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body disease).

Parkinson’s disease can also be diagnosed using SPECT. However, since in this particular disorder, another radiopharmaceutical tracer is used, it will be described in a separate chapter.

In case of drug abuse or alcoholism, brain SPECT is also helpful to evaluate cerebral damage and partial or total recovery after treatment for alcohol or drug addiction.

Seizures can be diagnosed using SPECT. However, in this particular disease, Positron Emission tomography (PET scan) allows better results  and should therefore be preferred to SPECT in this pathology. This is also the case for brain tumors.
Parkinson disease and degenerative disorders can be explored using PET scan. However, since it is currently less available than SPECT, it should be reserved for selected cases.


  • Before a cerebral SPECT study, avoid drugs modifying cerebral blood flow (coffee, alcohol, psychoactive drugs).
  • If a sedative drug is necessary before images acquisition,  the radiotracer injection has to be performed at least 5 minutes before its administration.
  • The patient has to be quiet, comfortable.  The eyes have to be closed and an intravenous access is mandatory 10 minutes before the injection, to avoid any stress. One should also avoid to speak to the patient. 


The most frequently used SPECT radiotracers include 99mTc-Hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (99mTc-HMPAO) and 99mTc-ethyl cysteine dimer (99mTc-ECD or 99mTc-Bisicate).
The characteristics of cerebral blood flow tracers are described in the atlas.

Document in PDF format :

>>Functional imaging atlas in nuclear medicine.