Single photon emission computed tomography, or SPEC 3D Imaging is a high-tech scanner that uses radioactive tracers to see blood flow through your heart. The tracer mixes with your blood and emits gamma rays. This method of nuclear cardiology uses a specific camera that picks up the gamma tracer and allows us to create 3D pictures of your heart in the convenience of our Los Angeles office. SPEC 3D imaging is a noninvasive test, so you don’t need to undergo an operation.
How Does It Work
Single photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, is a nuclear medicine imaging technique that can evaluate the heart’s function. The test involves injecting a small amount of a radioactive tracer into the bloodstream. The tracer collects in the heart muscle and emits gamma rays, which the SPECT camera detects. The camera rotates around the body and produces images that show the distribution of the tracer in the heart.
The SPECT Technique
In this nuclear cardiology technique, a computer is used to manufacture thin 3D slice images that go all through your heart. These slices are created from many angles to examine your heart in exceptional detail. This test can show how well the heart is pumping and receiving blood and whether certain areas of the heart are not receiving enough blood. SPECT can also assess the effect of medications or surgical interventions on the heart.
SPECT is a painless and safe test. The amount of radiation exposure from the tracer is similar to that of a chest x-ray. Furthermore, the radioactive gamma tracer will be flushed from your body in 48-72 hours, so there are no lasting side effects or risks.
What to Expect
If you are scheduled for a single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan to assess your cardiac health, you may wonder what to expect. SPECT scans are noninvasive and use nuclear medicine to produce 3-D images of your heart. Here is what you can expect before, during, and after your SPECT scan.
Before your SPECT scan, you will be asked to fill out a health history form. This form is important because it will help the nuclear medicine technician determine if you have any allergies or other health conditions that could interfere with the exam. You will also be asked to remove any jewelry or clothing that could get in the way of the scan.
During the SPECT scan, you will be asked to lie still on a table, following which a radioactive tracer is injected into your vein. As the radioactive tracer flows through your blood and reaches your heart, the camera rotates around your body and takes pictures of your heart from different angles. The whole process takes about 30 minutes.
After the SPECT scan, you can go about your day as usual. There is no downtime or recovery period associated with this exam. The cardiologist will process the images of your heart and interpret the results. Dr. Maddahi will discuss your scan results with you, explain what they mean for your cardiac health, and curate a personalized treatment plan.
Cutting-Edge Cardiac Care
Single photon emission computed tomography, or SPEC 3D Imaging is just one example of the nuclear cardiology technology Dr. Maddahi can employ at his Los Angeles office to save you the expense and pain of surgery. He has spent time acquiring the technology, equipment, and expertise in cardiology so that you are saved from unnecessary procedures. If you have a high risk of cardiac problems, symptoms of heart conditions, or a history of heart conditions, please consult Dr. Maddahi at our Los Angeles cardiology office.