SPECT technology was developed more than 30 years ago. It uses a radioactive isotope injected into the bloodstream to measure blood flow in the heart or the brain. Today, SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) has largely been replaced with PET (positron emission tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which are more advanced. Also, an MRI does not involve injecting radioactive materials into the bloodstream.
Most doctors don’t use SPECT anymore although it is capable of helping to detect conditions like strokes, tumors, and a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease known as front temporal dementia. Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, head of the psychiatry department at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, says that SPECT doesn’t have the resolution to give information pertaining to anything beyond these very dramatic conditions. He says that the images have no relevance to mental disorders.
So what is all the hype about SPECT technology for diagnosing mental disorders? Certain doctors have gone public claiming to have the power to fix mental disorders by reviewing SPECT images. If few specialists are using SPECT technology, why do some doctors claim to prevent and cure mental disorders with this technology? It could be that it’s a lucrative business model. Be wary of doctors who take full payment upfront, not submitted through insurance, and who prescribe large amounts of vitamins and herbs designed to cure your condition. Many people are looking for the ultimate cure for health and mental issues. Dr. Lieberman M.D. at Columbia says that SPECT images have zero relevance to mental disorders.