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What is a SPECT/CT scan and why is it done?

A SPECT/CT is a combination of a SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) scan with a CT (Computed Tomography) scan. A SPECT scan is a type of nuclear medicine test that uses a radiotracer (a special contrast agent), that is injected through your vein. A CT scan uses X-ray radiation to provide thorough images of the structures inside your body (anatomy).

By integrating both of these exams, the technology creates a very detailed and informative study by showing both your anatomy and physiology. The combination of both the SPECT and CT are used to help avoid, detect and treat an assortment of abnormalities within the body. Many times a SPECT/CT can identify the disease, even at its early stages before other imaging exams.

Types of SPECT/CT scans that we currently offer

  • Whole body bone
  • 3 phase bone
  • Parathyroid
  • Octreotide
  • Infection imaging using white blood cells
  • Hemangioma
  • Sentinel node for breast cancer and melanoma
  • Accessory spleen

Patient Prep

No preparation is needed for any of the SPECT/CT scans we offer. The only thing we ask is that you are well hydrated and wear warm comfortable clothing, avoiding all metals for the exam (no zippers, buttons, bra with underwire or jewelry).

What to Wear

Regardless of what test you are undergoing today, we want you to wear warm, comfortable clothing. The scan rooms are kept cold to preserve equipment life. Avoid all metals such as zippers, buckles, underwire bras, jewelry, etc. You will have to remove any of these items if you wear them. We will provide scrubs if necessary.


There are no restrictions on your medications. You can take them all as you normally would.

Medications to help minimize anxiety such as Valium, Ativan or Xanax are allowed as well as any pain medications to help with discomfort. If you need these medications, please bring them with you, as our facility cannot provide them.If you do take any of these medications, please make sure you have someone to drive you home.

If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding your medications, do not hesitate to give us a call.

Length of Exam and What to Expect

Each type of SPECT/CT exam has a different scan length. After the injection of the radiotracer you can expect to be in our office for about two hours. However, some scans will involve you returning later that day, or even on following days. If you have any questions about the duration of your exam, please call us.

There will be two large rectangular detectors (top and bottom of the table) that rotate around your specific area of interest. They will come close but they will never touch you.

After SPECT Scan

The radiotracer will remain in your body for about a day following the injection. It will be gradually eliminated from your body through natural functions. Drinking extra fluids will help flush it through your system faster.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When will I receive my results?
    • If you do not have a follow up appointment scheduled with your referring physician, we recommend you call your doctor 24-48 hours after your scan to get the results (excluding weekends).
  2. Where do we park and do we have to pay for it?
    • There are two entrances: Harrison St and Adams St
    • We have a parking lot right outside of the building for patient use.
    • We do validate your parking, so you do not have to worry about the cost.
  3. Can family members stay with me for my scan?
    • Family members are required to stay in the waiting room unless the patient needs help. You will be slightly radioactive so it is important that your family members/friends do not get any unnecessary exposure.
  4. Nobody has contacted me about the exam. What do I do?
    • Our staff technologists always call to give patient prep and any other information that you may need 2 days prior to your appointment. It is very important that you get the information for your test from our office directly, not your other doctors. If you have any questions/concerns, please do not hesitate to call.
  5. How do I cancel my appointment?
    • If you cannot make your appointment or need to reschedule, please notify us at least 24 hours in advance. The drug that we administer is specific to you and can only be used that day and time that you were scheduled.
  6. I am claustrophobic; will I be able to take any medications to help?
    • You are able to obtain a prescription from your doctor for something to help you relax if you need it. We CANNOT provide you with any medications.
    • The SPECT/CT scanner is not enclosed. There will be two large rectangular detectors that rotate around the area of interest. Most patients do not find an issue with this scan.
  7. I have had an allergic reaction to contrast dyes before. Is this safe for me to have this exam?
    • IV/Oral contrast is given to you during CT/MRI scans. The material we inject is a small amount of a radioactive tracer, which has no side effects whatsoever.
  8. I have a port, can you inject in that instead of my veins?
    • The radiotracer that you will be receiving can cling to the lining of the port, which could potentially mask something abnormal. If absolutely necessary we can use the ports, but will always try alternative access routes beforehand.
  9. My doctor works at a different hospital. Will he have the pictures on file?
    • We recommend that you request a DVD from us, so your doctor can have your records on file. The DVD will take the technologist about 15 min to make after your exam.
    • If you have had previous imaging done at other facilities, we recommend that you bring any DVDs or paperwork from these facilities for comparison.