Cerebral Perfusion Study

Authors: Mrs Claire Du Jardin*
                            Dr Timothy Cain *

What are the prerequisites for having a cerebral perfusion study done?

Due to the complexity of neurological conditions, generally these studies are only referred by neurology consultants. Consultants who are unsure whether a cerebral perfusion study is the most appropriate test for their patient should consult a nuclear medicine specialist.

Doctors treating women who are in the reproductive age group should establish whether the patient is pregnant prior to the scan.

What are the absolute contraindications for a cerebral perfusion study?

This study may not be suitable for pregnant women. The benefit versus risk should be discussed with the nuclear medicine specialist.

Women who are breastfeeding and people who are the primary or sole carer for small children may need to make special preparations after the test to stop breastfeeding for a short time and to avoid close contact with young children due to the small amount of radioactivity released for a while after the test. Patients should discuss this with their referring doctor or the nuclear medicine practice where they will have the test for details. See nuclear medicine for further information about the precautions to take with nuclear medicine studies for breastfeeding patients and those in close contact with children.

What are the relative contraindications for a cerebral perfusion study?

Most scanning beds have a weight limit of 150-200kg.

Scanning requires absolute compliance in terms of the patient remaining still. Diagnostic results are not guaranteed in patients who are unable to stay still due to non-compliance or involuntary movement.

What are the adverse effects of a cerebral perfusion study?

A cerebral perfusion study does not normally carry risk. In a very small number of patients (1%) a rash or allergic reaction has occurred. These reactions are short lived and responded to treatment.

It should be noted that, like many diagnostic imaging tests, a cerebral perfusion study involves exposure to ionising radiation. However, this radiation dose is comparable to and in many cases less than the radiation doses received from other tests such as CT scans. (See radiation risk of medical imaging for adults and children)

Are there alternative imaging tests, interventions or surgical procedures to a cerebral perfusion study?

Nuclear medicine positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a good alternative for all brain imaging. This is only Medicare funded for epilepsy studies. It is also not widely available in the community, limiting its usefulness in brain imaging. cerebral perfusion imaging may be used in conjunction with MRI and CT scanning to ratify SPECT findings.

*The author has no conflict of interest with this topic.

Page last modified on 26/7/2017.

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