Types of Detectable Abnormalities

SPECT and PET imaging have showed comparable detection of diseased states. In chronic pathological states, the cerebral blood flow demonstrated by SPECT correlates to abnormal metabolic activity that is shown by PET imaging. Unfortunately, PET imaging requires cyclotron produced nucleotides. This, as well as the great cost of this techniques, has limited this procedure to major research facilities. SPECT imaging is more accessible owing to recent advances in stability of radionucleotides and in computer technology. These factors have led to a significant increase in the resolution of the SPECT images. PET and SPECT can detect generalized hypometabolism in anoxia, degenerative disease, trauma, and aging or a focal hypometabolism. Hypermetabolism due to increased blood flow into tumor or infection can be detected as well as seizure foci. In degenerative illnesses with neurotransmitter defects (e.g., Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease), focal deficits can be detected, although these applications remain largely in the research realm.

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