(posted March 3, 2011)
A case study of a 73-year-old male shows that a specific type of positron emission tomography (PET) when used under fasting conditions may be effective in diagnosing a condition known as cardiac sarcoidosis. The case study by James A. Arrighi, M.D., a cardiologist with Rhode Island Hospital, is published in the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology.
Cardiac sarcoidosis is a disease that can severely impact heart function, and leaves clumps of granular cells resembling scar tissue in the heart. The condition may be life threatening and can result in heart failure. A variety of symptoms are associated with the condition, including irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, leg swelling, and rarely, chest pain. Because these symptoms are associated with a number of conditions, cardiac sarcoidosis is often difficult to diagnose.
Diagnosis usually occurs after a battery of tests have been used to rule out other conditions. A cardiac biopsy can be used to diagnose the condition, and cardiac MRI may also be able to detect the granular cells associated with the condition.
In patients with suspected cardiac sarcoidosis, cardiac PET may be particularly useful to determine whether there is evidence of a flare-up of the condition in the heart, and may help guide therapy, says Arrighi.
The case study published by Arrighi, who is also an associate professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, shows that while other tests performed did not indicate a diagnosis of cardiac sarcoidosis, the PET scan did. Arrighi notes that further studies are needed to determine the relative value of the technique; however, the study shows promise for the use of PET in this difficult-to-diagnose condition.