Radiology (Xray)

SPECT CT scans

SPECT CT Appointments – Nuclear Medicine, Freeman Hospital: (0191) 213 8200

A SPECT CT scanner is installed at The Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

The NCCC was the first centre in the UK to install this type of scanner, which is enabled for radiotherapy planning.

The scanner combines the best aspects of two different types of scanning - SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) and CT (computerised tomography) scanning.

The single piece of equipment produces integrated images to be used for diagnosis, and to help plan complex radiotherapy treatments.

What does the SPECT CT scanner do?

SPECT-CT ScannerSPECT imaging gives functional information, such as the selective uptake of injected radionuclides by tumours. This helps to identify lesions that can often be missed on other types of imaging. Because the images are not anatomical, the exact site of uptake can be difficult to measure.

CT scans offer highly accurate anatomical detail. The combined SPECT CT machine offers the very best of both these types of image and is a significant advance in scanning.

The SPECT-CT scanner allows more accurate identification of lesions where previously we were less certain of their site or relevance. 

When viewed as a combined image, the two sources of information allow clinicians to understand in greater detail than ever before, the anatomy and behaviour of a patient’s tumour and surrounding healthy tissues.

Research activity

The SPECT/CT scanner is also run by Research Radiographers one day a week for CT scanning patients who are taking part in clinical trials. The majority of this work originates from the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at NCCC.  

The SPECT-CT’s research capability allows Newcastle Hospitals to continue to develop its work in clinical trials, building upon our commitment to develop new techniques to deal with cancer and many other diseases.

Introduction to patient informationShow [+]Hide [-]

This web page is designed to give you some information about the SPECT CT scanner, to help you prepare for your scan and to give you some idea of what to expect when you attend.

What is a SPECT C.T. Scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

SPECT CT combines the functional information provided by Nuclear Medicine imaging (SPECT) with the anatomical framework of the x-ray C.T. thereby improving the diagnostic precision of the area or organ being investigated.  

Who performs the scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

The person who carries out the scan is called a Technologist and will explain the procedure to you and show you how to position yourself.  It is important that you lie still for the duration of the scan.

Do I need any special preparation before the examination?Show [+]Hide [-]

Please eat and drink as normal, unless specifically told otherwise.

Please continue to take any medication prescribed by your doctor, unless specifically told otherwise. 

If possible try to wear clothing without metal zip fastenings or clips. If this is not possible a hospital gown and changing facilities are provided.

If possible, try to leave personal valuables at home.

I am a diabetic. Does this change anything?Show [+]Hide [-]

Yes, for some tests you will need to speak to a member of staff. This will be outlined in your appointment letter along with the telephone number.  

What happens before my scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

When you arrive in the department you should report to the Nuclear Medicine Reception desk. The nurse or technologist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding your scan. 

The procedure requires the intravenous injection of a radioactive tracer. There may be an interval of time, hours or days before taking the images; this will depend on the type of investigation.

Depending on which area of your body is to be scanned, you may be asked to undress, in which case, a gown will be provided. 

What if I am pregnant?Show [+]Hide [-]

SPECT CT scanning of pregnant women should be avoided whenever possible. 

If you think you may be pregnant it is very important that you tell the nurse or radiographer before your scan. To avoid accidental irradiation, all females between the ages of 11 and 55 years are asked the date of their last menstrual period (LMP). From this information staff will decide if there is cause for the examination to be postponed or if it is safe to continue.   Please contact our department if you think you may be pregnant

How long will my scan take?Show [+]Hide [-]

This will depend on the test you are having, please refer to your appointment letter which will have specific details.

How does it feel?Show [+]Hide [-]

You should not experience anything to cause any discomfort. However, if the CT part of your test requires that you are given an injection of x-ray dye you may get a warm feeling all over your body and a sensation as if you are passing water. If you get these sensations, they will pass within 30 seconds. The technologist will explain this to you when you attend for your appointment.

What happens after the scan? When will I get my results?Show [+]Hide [-]

After your scan has finished we will not be able to tell you the results as the reporting Radiologist or Physicist will need to study the images carefully. If you have come from home, the results will be sent back to the doctor who referred you for your scan. This process takes approximately 2 weeks, so unless other arrangements have been made you should expect to hear something after this time.

If you are undergoing planned investigations on a ward, the result will be sent to the ward as soon as possible. The doctors on the ward may be able to discuss the findings with you.

Can I drive home?Show [+]Hide [-]


I need an ambulance/transport. Do you arrange it?Show [+]Hide [-]

If you need an ambulance/ transport, you should ask your GP Surgery to arrange it. You will need to give them three working days’ notice. Please note that hospital transport is provided on medical need only.

What are the benefits of having a SPECT CT scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

This examination will help us make the correct diagnosis so you will be able to be given the correct treatment.

What are the risks of having a SPECT CT scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

We live with background radiation constantly. The additional amount of radiation you receive from a SPECT CT scan is small. Modern equipment is designed to keep the dose to patients as low as possible. If your doctor has asked for a scan, then he or she will have decided that the benefit of having the information that the scan gives, is greater than the risk of the small dose of radiation. Since radiation can harm unborn babies, if you are, or could be pregnant, please tell the radiographer or nurse before you have the scan. This is very important.

What if I cannot attend for my appointment?Show [+]Hide [-]

If your appointment time is not convenient please contact the relevant hospital department so that a more appropriate time can be arranged.  This will enable us to reallocate valuable scanning time to someone else:

Freeman Nuclear Medicine  Appointments: 0191 213 8200 (8.30am-4.30pm).

Information from your diagnostic test will contribute to the Diagnostic Imaging Dataset. Show [+]Hide [-]

The Diagnostic Imaging Dataset (DID) is a database that holds information on the imaging tests and scans carried out on NHS patients. This will allow the Health and Social Care Information Centre to see how different tests are used across the country.

Nothing will ever be reported that identifies you. All information is stored securely. It is only made available to appropriate staff, and is kept strictly confidential. However, if you do not want your information to be stored in the DID, please tell the people who are treating you. They will make sure your information is not copied into the DID.

You may, at a later date, still decide to opt out.  Please contact the Health and Social Care Information Centre directly, their contact details are:

Tel: 0845 300 6016 

Email:  Website: 

What if I have any comments or suggestions?Show [+]Hide [-]

Should you have any suggestions or concerns, please make these known to the person conducting your examination or by letter addressed to the hospital that you are attending your examination:

The Departmental Manager                     

Nuclear Medicine Department,  Level 2     

Freeman Hospital

High Heaton

Newcastle upon Tyne                                

 NE7 7DN

Tel: 0191 21 38210

Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm

All Newcastle Hospitals: Switchboard Tel: 0191 233 6161 (24 hours)

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer on-the-spot advice and information about the NHS.  You can contact them on freephone 0800 032 02 02 or email

Information produced by:

Peter Jackson, Chief Technologist/ Chris Ford, Office Manager

Reviewed: October 2014

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