How the nuclear medicine imaging spect examination is performed

How to prepare for the SPECT scan

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS

  • Most examinations do not require any special preparation; the patient can drink and eat prior to the scan.
  • Some examinations of the digestive tract are an exception because the scan needs to be done before the patient has eaten.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

  • The patient should wear warm, comfortable clothes, free of metal parts such as zips, bra underwires etc. or take them as a change of clothes only. The procedure does not require undressing; however jewellery and dentures must be removed.
  • Small children or pregnant women must not undergo such an examination.
  • The patient should notify staff if he or she is on antibiotics or steroids, has a cold, has had any medical procedures in the past month, is in the middle of chemo- or radiotherapy, or his or her weight has considerably changed (more than 5kg)
  • The administered radiopharmaceutical agent does not influence the ability to operate machines and drive cars.

WHAT TO BRING

  • An ID document with a photo
  • The original referral letter completed legibly by the physician with his signature and stamp
  • Medical documentation including the results of investigations performed to date, CDs, photos, hospital discharge summaries
  • Approximately 1.5 litres of still mineral water, which should only be drunk following the nurse’s instructions.

The procedure

PREPARATION

  • The patient is invited to come to the reception desk at the SPECT centre where he will be asked to answer a few questions and to fill out a medical questionnaire
  • Before the scan the doctor explains the procedures to the patient
  • Next the nurse inserts the cannula through which a radiopharmaceutical will be applied, and checks the blood glucose level by pricking the finger. The cannula will be removed after the procedure has been completed.
  • The nurse will put small portions of radioactive isotope of glucose (FDG) through the inserted cannula. This isotope has a very short half-life. The administration of the isotope is not painful and does not cause any side effects.
  • The patient is taken by the nurse to a room where he/she will be asked to lie down on a couch and relax. During approximately one hour of rest and relaxation, the administered isotope will be naturally bio-distributed in the body. Conversation and any unnecessary movements should be avoided at this time.
  • Some scans commence immediately after administration of the radiotracer, whilst others require up to a few hours to be absorbed.

SCAN

  • The patient is taken to a special room by a member of the laboratory staff and asked to lie down in the proper position on a comfortable bed, which will then be slid inside the SPECT scanner.
  • The scan is carried out by means of a gamma camera. Throughout the scan, the patient remains in a lying position and motionless for several minutes. During this time, the detector captures the distribution of the radiotracer in the patient’s body as well as its flow and excretion.

AFTER THE SCAN

  • After the procedure the patient is led by the nurse to an appropriate exit.
  • The administration of radiotracers does not adversely affect well-being; therefore, after the procedure the patient should feel well and may leave the Centre and return to his normal activities and diet.
  • Increased amounts of fluids should be drunk a few hours after the scan.
  • By the end of the day, from 6 to 12 hours post-procedure, the patient should refrain from contact with children, young people and pregnant women.
  • Over the course of the day the patient should drink plenty of fluid so that the part of the radioisotope which remains in the blood can be more quickly eliminated from the body through urination.
  •  The patient should observe the rules of hygiene, particularly: flush the toilet twice; thoroughly remove all urinary soiling with a separate piece of toilet paper which should be thrown away into the toilet and flushed; after each visit to the toilet, wash hands in running water to remove the possibility of radioisotope contamination; do not share towels with other users.

Getting the results

The patient will receive information concerning the examination results at the reception desk. The results will be interpreted and analysed by our specialists. The results may be collected in person or by a third party upon signature of a special authorization form. The results contain a report as well as a CD with the relevant images and report.