WHAT IS BRAIN IMAGING?

 

Brain SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) imaging is a sophisticated nuclear medicine study that produces clear, real-time pictures of blood flow and activity in the brain. This allows clinicians to identify which areas of the brain are functioning normally and which are under- or over-active. With a clearer understanding of the physiological source of the problem, clinicians are better able to create a treatment plan to balance brain function.

Pioneered by Dr. Daniel Amen, brain SPECT imaging involves injecting a compound into the patient’s blood stream. This compound makes its way to the brain where it emits pulses of energy that light up active areas of the brain. A camera captures images of the brain and sends them to a computer that reconstructs a three-dimensional picture of the brain. Clinicians use this picture to identify patterns of brain activity that indicate a psychiatric disorder.

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BRAIN IMAGING?

 

Brain SPECT imaging is a safe, accurate way to inform doctors about how a patient’s brain is functioning. This information can be used to make more accurate diagnoses, design a more effective treatment plan and to educate the patient about their disorder.

Additional benefits of brain SPECT imaging include:

  • Helps addicts break through denial and comply with treatment
  • Improves ability to detect brain trauma and other problems that may contribute to substance abuse
  • Gives patients a medical view of their problem, reducing feelings of shame and guilt
  • Enhances patients’ understanding of their illness and their struggles to make healthy decisions

WHAT CONDITIONS/DISORDERS DOES BRAIN IMAGING TREAT?

Research suggests that brain SPECT imaging is useful in treating the following disorders:

  • Brain trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Dementia
  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral vascular disease
  • Violent or aggressive behavior

Brain SPECT imaging also can be utilized to treat eating disorders, sex addiction, emotional trauma, mood and anxiety disorders, and chronic pain. It has proven highly beneficial in complex or treatment-resistant cases.