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SPECT Scanning of Parathyroid Tumors

Hemant Chheda, M.D.

SPECT (Single Proton Emission Computerized Tomography) scanning is a new technique whereby images can be obtained of diseased glands which have absorbed a radioactive marker. A number of experts believe that SPECT scanning for parathyroid disease enables them to increase the accuracy of routine Sestamibi scanning by about 2 to 3 percent. SPECT scanning can be performed at any time within the first several hours after a patient is injected with the radioactive Sestamibi radiopharmaceutical. During the scan, 30 (typical) or more images are taken surrounding the patient's head and neck. These images can be viewed separately, or they can be assimilated to provide a three dimensional picture as seen in the video accompanying this page. The most important use for SPECT scanning is when ordinary Sestamibi scans are inconclusive or when a more detailed anatomic localization is necessary such as when patients are being re-operated on. Some believe that the SPECT scanning to localize parathyroid glands is a bit over used, and have suggested that it will be less necessary as hospitals become more experienced with the routine sestamibi scan. This can be a terrific tool, however.