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Neuroradiology (MRI/SPECT/PET)

Epilepsy spect scanClick here for MRI information. 


What is a SPECT scan?

Single photon-emission computed tomography.

A SPECT scan looks at the blood flow of the brain. This involves injecting a substance through a cannula in the hand called an isotope that will travel to the brain and allows us to see if there are any blood flow changes during a seizure.

There are two types of scan; One (the ictal scan)when the dye is injected during a seizure and the other (interictal) in-between seizures.

Please see here for some more information. 

What happens during the test?

Your child will have the EEG wires put in place the day before the scan.

The nurse or doctor will put a cannula (small plastic tube) into a vein on your child's hand.

For the Ictal scan the EEG monitoring will continue and a physiologist will be looking at this recording.

When a seizure occurs they will instruct a specialist radiographer to inject the isotope (through the cannula).

Once the seizure has finished the EEG wires will be removed and your child will be taken to the scanner the same day.

The radiographers can carry out the SPECT scan with your child under sedation, this will be discussed with you before your appointment.

The scan takes 30 minutes to complete and it is very important that your child remains still throughout. The SPECT camera rotates slowly around the head taking images. To get good image quality the camera needs to get as close as possible, but it will not touch your child's head.

For the second interitcal scan the EEG will be recorded to make sure no seizures have occurred before and for 15 minutes after the injection of the isotope.

As before your child will get an injection into their hand and taken to the scanner.

Is there any risks to the test?

A very small amount of radioactivity is used to obtain pictures of the inside of your child's body. This will help the doctors to understand the nature and extent of your child's illness. The radiation dose your child receives is very low, and is often less than from some ordinary x-rays.

What happens after the test?

If medication has been reduced for the test these will be restarted again and you will be able to go home once they have been back on full medication for 24 hours and the number of seizures is back to normal.

If you have any questions please contact the epilepsy surgery nursing team.