Display Mode:

    Main content

    Health Information

    SPECT Image of the Heart

    SPECT Image of the Heart

    Skip to the navigation

    Topic Overview

    Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is a nuclear medicine imaging test. It is a type of positron emission tomography, also called a PET scan.

    Doctors use SPECT to:

    • Diagnose a person who has symptoms of heart disease.
    • Assess your risk of heart attack .
    • Find damaged heart tissue after a heart attack.

    When used to detect whether a heart attack is occurring or may occur, SPECT locates areas of the heart muscle that have inadequate blood flow compared with areas that have normal flow. Inadequate blood flow means that coronary arteries are blocked and a heart attack is occurring. SPECT can also assess how bad the blood flow blockage is.

    It is a noninvasive imaging scan that exposes you to radiation. For this test, your doctor injects a tiny amount of radioactive tracers through a vein in your arm. After the radioactive tracer is injected, a camera that can detect the radiation emitted by these tracers rotates around you. This creates images of your heart from different angles. Then, computer graphics are used to create three-dimensional images of your heart.

    If your SPECT test is abnormal, you are considered at high risk of a heart attack.

    For more information about PET scans, see Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan).

    Related Information

    References

    Other Works Consulted

    • Antman EM (2012). ST-elevation myocardial infarction: Pathology, pathophysiology, and clinical features. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1087-1110. Philadelphia: Saunders.

    Credits

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology

    Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    © 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.