Improving the health of your brain and your quality of life is our primary goal, and it all starts with learning how your brain functions. Why? Your brain controls everything you do—from decision making and motivation to healthy relationships and stress resilience. When your brain works right, you work right too! With full evaluations, we obtain:
- Detailed clinical histories on your biological, psychological, social, and spiritual background
- Cognitive testing
- Questionnaires and checklists
- Brain SPECT imaging
We use all of this data we to create an individualized, targeted treatment plan specifically for your needs and the way your unique brain functions. Whenever possible and medically appropriate, we like to begin with more natural treatments.
ABOUT SPECT IMAGING
Brain SPECT imaging is a proven and reliable measure of brain blood flow and activity; therefore, it is used as a tool in the evaluation and treatment process at Amen Clinics. SPECT imaging effectively shows us the patterns of activity in your brain. It allows our physicians to observe three things: areas of the brain that work well; areas of the brain that work too hard; and areas of the brain that don’t work hard enough.
Some of the common reasons include:
- Evaluating the effects of mild, moderate and severe head trauma.
- Evaluating atypical, unresponsive or mixed psychiatric conditions.
- Evaluating the effects of mild, moderate and severe head trauma.
- Evaluating the presence of an underlying organic brain condition that contributes to behavioral or emotional disturbances.
- Evaluating aggressive or suicidal behavior.
- Evaluating the extent of brain impairment caused by drug or alcohol abuse or other toxic exposure.
- Subtyping the physiology of underlying mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or attention deficit disorders.
- Brain Optimization/Brain Health Checkup.
- Evaluating suspected seizure activity.
- Evaluating suspected cerebral vascular disease (such as stroke).
- Following-up to evaluate the physiological effectiveness of treatment.
The radiotracer that we use for SPECT is called Technetium 99m. Its signal is detected by the scanner. Combining Tc99m with other molecules (like HMPAO – “Ceretec”) allows Tc99m to enter specific/desired tissues. This allows us to understand the functioning of that tissue.
SPECT requires an injection of 20 to 25mCi (millicuries, the measure of radioactivity inherent to a radiopharmaceutical – in our case, Technetium 99m). The biological effect a dose of radioactivity has on tissues (effective dose), cannot be linearly extrapolated from the radioactivity of a dose of administered radioisotope, and it varies with tissues, so a total radioactivity exposure (effective dose) for the whole body is calculated. This is measured in rem (Roentgen equivalents to man) or Sieverts (one Sievert = 100 rem).
The average radiation exposure for one SPECT scan is 0.7 rem. Two of our SPECT scans are roughly equivalent to, or a bit less than, one CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis (about 0.7, depending on protocol).
This amount of exposure is well below the cut-off level (10.0 rem) for any known potential or observable health risks.
About 5% of the total dose goes to the brain. About 40% of the tracer is excreted within minutes by the kidneys and the remainder by the gallbladder over about 24 hours. Tc99m has a half-life of just over 6 hours. We always encourage patients to drink plenty of water.
PREPARING FOR APPOINTMENTS
We know people worry they may not get accurate scans while on medication, but many of our patients are scanned on their medications and the scans are still very valuable. NEVER discontinue any medication or nutritional supplement necessary for your physical health. These include, but are not limited to, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, diabetes or thyroid medications, and medications that treat heart or lung problems. If you decide to be scanned off all medications and supplements, please consult your prescribing physician before discontinuing any medication.
In general we recommend patients:
- Discontinue stimulants four days prior to the first scan appointment and stay off of them until the scan appointment(s) are completed.
- For other psychiatric medications, it depends on the particular half-life of each medication (meaning how long it stays in your system). Only reduce or stop medication under your doctor’s supervision.
- If helpful, you can arrange to have a phone consultation between one of our doctors and your personal physician to discuss questions about discontinuing medication and supplements prior to your scans at an additional cost.
Many people come to Amen Clinics seeking a second opinion on scans performed elsewhere. While there are some compatibility considerations, we are happy to perform this service.
To arrange the reading, contact our Imaging Department at (949) 236-8667. The patient will need to sign forms authorizing the release of their medical information to their physician. The optical disk should be sent to the Orange County office to the attention of Nuclear Imaging Coordinator. Fees are $400 per scan, and must be paid in advance.
IMPORTANT: You will need to ensure that the scans are compatible with our software, database, and reading protocols.
FEES AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION
Our staff is committed to communication and transparency every step of the way. If you have questions about fees, please call us at 888-288-9834.
If you are a current patient with questions about payment status, please call the clinic at which you were treated.
We offer a 10% discount for family members and friends referred by patients who have had complete evaluations with SPECT scans. In addition, we offer a Family First Discount Plan, which you can learn more about here.
Because we want everyone to have access to the health care services they need at Amen Clinics, we have partnered with CareCredit to offer interest-free financing.
CareCredit is a special credit card that can only be used for health, cosmetic, and veterinary procedures. There are no up-front costs or pre-payment penalties. Although individual plans may vary, in most cases, a payment schedule is set up between you and CareCredit, and if you pay off your fees within the agreed-upon time frame, you are not charged any interest. This will enable you to receive treatment at Amen Clinics right away.
You can call Care Credit at (866) 893-7864 or contact them on the web at www.CareCredit.com for more information.
If you are an existing CareCredit cardholder needing help with your account, please call (866) 893-7864.
CANCELLING AND RESCHEDULING
When we schedule an evaluation, we ask for a non-refundable deposit. We do this because when you are scheduled, we are blocking several hours of appointments on 4 different provider schedules and ordering the scan pharmaceuticals specifically for you.
This initial deposit must be paid at the time appointments are scheduled; it is then applied to the complete payment for services. In order to receive a refund of your initial deposit, you must cancel your appointment no later than 3 business days from the time you initially booked your appointments. If you choose to cancel your appointments after this time, your deposit will not be refundable.
If you need to reschedule, please give us at least 2 business days to make the change, otherwise it will be considered a cancellation.
TREATMENT AND FOLLOW-UP CARE
We have a list of professionals throughout the country who are a part of our referral network. However, we cannot guarantee you will find a medical professional willing to use our treatment method in your local area.