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Brain SPECT Endorsed For Psychiatric Indications

July 13, 2021 GMT

COSTA MESA, Calif., July 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In a landmark decision in May 2021, the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine (CANM) unanimously endorsed brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging for the evaluation of many common psychiatric and neurologic indications, including:

  • Neuropsychiatric disorders (including ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, PTSD)
  • Suspected dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease, frontal temporal lobe dementia, vascular dementia, mild cognitive impairment)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Substance abuse

SPECT differs from anatomical MRI and CT scans in that SPECT looks at how the brain functions. Despite decades of research showing SPECT can provide valuable information on a wide range of conditions, traditional psychiatry has been resistant to using it in clinical practice. As a result, psychiatry remains the only medical specialty that rarely looks at the organ it treats, which only perpetuates stigma and handicaps physicians in making appropriate diagnoses.


Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics, has been using SPECT in clinical practice for 30 years. “When I first started to use SPECT, I felt it made me a better doctor,” Amen says. “For example, a 44-year-old patient was in denial about his alcohol and cocaine abuse. After seeing the ‘toxic’ pattern on his scan he completely stopped the substances.”

Amen adds, “SPECT scans often immediately decrease shame and stigma, as patients see their problems as medical and not moral and it gives physicians more information to help their patients. It’s my hope that tools like SPECT will help us stop using the term ‘mental illness’ and call these issues what they really are—brain health issues that steal people’s minds. Get your brain right and your mind will follow.”

Contact: Natalie Buchoz
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SOURCE Amen Clinics, Inc.