SPECT Scans: Ontario Courts Grapple with a “Novel” Evidentiary Tool

  • 10 février 2023
  • Grace Murdoch


In recent years, single-photon emission computerized tomography scans (otherwise known as “SPECT” scans) have been the subject of debate in Ontario’s court rooms when evaluating brain injury claims.

Whether the conclusions resulting from such scans can be admitted into evidence and for what purpose are increasingly becoming important questions in personal injury law.

What is a SPECT Scan?

SPECT scans are a form of nuclear imaging testing which use computed technology and a radioactive tracer to produce 3D images that show the blood flow activity in organs and give insight into their functioning. This is in contrast to imaging such as CAT scans or MRIs, which produce an image of the internal body.

SPECT scans have been in use for approximately 30 years and have been used for a variety of purposes related to brain disorders (e.g. clogged blood vessels, seizure disorders, or  Parkinson’s disease), heart problems (e.g. clogged coronary arteries or reduced pumping efficiency), and bone disorders.[1] Where the controversy lies in the legal field is whether a SPECT scan can accurately assist in the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) even where other forms of medical imaging indicate otherwise.

Two recent decisions from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice have considered the admissibility of SPECT scans, and of what use, if any, it provides in a legal analysis of TBIs.