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Positron emission tomography / single-photon emission computed tomography

What is positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)?

PET and SPECT are nuclear-based imaging techniques that utilise radioactive tracers to visualise functional brain activity. The radioisotopes tracers are coupled with a biological molecule such as glucose, which is used during cellular metabolism and can be used to highlight areas with changes in metabolic activity. While SPECT offers more limited spatial and temporal resolution than PET, it is less expensive as it does not require a cyclotron in close proximity.

What is the evidence for PET and SPECT anomalies in people with bipolar disorder?

Low quality evidence is unable to determine differences in cerebral blood flow using PET or SPECT in people with bipolar disorder compared to controls, or when compared to people with unipolar depression.

Review authors conclude that the most consistent findings are for reduced cerebral blood flow in frontal, temporal and parietal regions of people with bipolar disorder compared to controls, with no differences when compared to people with unipolar depression.

July 2020

Last updated at: 11:26 pm, 15th July 2020
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.