SPECT Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography Scan Glossary

A Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) scan is a type of nuclear imaging test that shows how blood flows to tissues and organs. Following are some useful terms.

gamma rays:

electromagnetic radiation emitted during radioactive decay and having an extremely short wavelength.

positron emission tomography (PET):

a nuclear medicine test in which tissue function can be imaged. Damaged tissues have reduced metabolic activity; therefore, gamma radiation from these areas is reduced or absent.

photon:

a particle that travels at the speed of light.

positron:

an electrically charged particle that has the opposite charge as an electron. It reacts with an electron to produce gamma rays.

radiolabel:

the technique of attaching, or “tagging”, a radioactive molecule to another molecule (such as a protein) so that it can be identified in the body. The radiolabeled substance emits positrons that can be picked up by a special scanner.

tomography:

the technique of using rotating X-rays to capture an image at a particular depth in the body, bringing those structures into sharp focus while blurring structures at other depths.

tracer:

a substance, usually radioactively labeled, which is injected into your body and can be followed to gain information about metabolic processes.

Useful SPECT Scan links:

www.radiologyinfo.org: is a website designed to answer your questions related to the many radiologic procedures and therapies available to you and your family. The Web site provides you with information whether you’re preparing for a baseline mammogram, learning more about your child’s x-ray, or researching radiation oncology (cancer therapy) procedures.

www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diagnosticimaging.html: Diagnostic Imaging at MedlinePlus provides a wealth of information. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other US government agencies and health-related organizations.

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