A SPECT (single-photon emission computerized tomography) scan is a nuclear imaging test done to visualize the area of the brain where seizures start. A SPECT looks at the blood flow in your brain using a safe radioactive substance that is injected through an IV.

Following the injection of the radioactive substance, you will have a CT of your brain to look at the blood flow activity. This test is performed in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at the time of seizure onset (ictal SPECT) and then repeated at another time when you are not seizing (intra-ictal SPECT). The images are compared to find the final result.

How to prepare for a SPECT

While in the EMU, you will not be taking your anti-seizure medications. At the start of a seizure, a technician will come to your bedside to inject the radioactive substance, and then transport you to have the CT scan. Either at the end of EMU admission or as an outpatient, the test will be repeated when you are back on medications and not seizing. There is no restriction on eating or drinking prior to the exam.

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