Recently published findings from the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology reported that a novel imaging method is much more accurate and thorough in diagnosing cardiac sarcoidosis than traditional ones.
Sarcoidosis is a rare inflammatory disorder that mainly affects the lungs and lymph glands. Patients with sarcoidosis have abnormal nodules called granulomas in certain organs of the body. As a result, these organs often lose their normal function and structure.
There are tests and imaging techniques available to diagnosis this disease, and two of the most commonly used methods are PET scans and CT scans. Even with these, a diagnosis of sarcoidosis is difficult to confirm, let alone stage. The results from these scans are often foggy and difficult to interpret. Moreover, these scans often lead to results that are false negatives, which, in my opinion, is much much worse than a false positive.
But things are looking up, as scientists have developed a new scan technique that combines the results from both the PET and the CT scans.
This scanning technique, which was founded at the University of Illinois, requires a 72-hour low sugar, high fat diet prior to imaging. For whatever reason, this works really well.
This newer, combined scan produces results with images of sarcoidosis that are significantly clearer—consequently, allowing researchers to better diagnose the condition.
Most instances of cardiac sarcoidosis, in particular, that couldn’t have been determined via previous scanning techniques, were diagnosed with this new technique. Furthermore, in a current study, researchers are using this new information to dig deeper into the association between cardiac sarcoidosis and sarcoidosis found in other areas in the body.
Professor of rheumatology in the UIC College of Medicine and an author on the official paper, Dr. Nadera Sweiss, comments that the intent of this study was to determine if patients who had suspected cardiac sarcoidosis would benefit from a more thorough picture of the body, beyond the usual PET or CT torso scan.
So, in this study, researchers used the PET-CT scans to analyze 188 patients who had gone through the 72-hour diet prior. 20 of these scans tested positive for cardiac sarcoidosis; of these, 40% showed sarcoidosis in other secondary sites in the body, as well.
The implication is that these full-body PET-CT scans for cardiac sarcoidosis could also lead to discovering a load of sarcoidosis in other areas in the body in a large amount of these patients.
Additionally, according to Sweiss, finding these secondary sites, outside of the heart, transforms the way that treatment is approached because, overall, the disease can be more accurately staged.
There haven’t been any major treatment developments from this research yet, but with all knowledge comes power, and hopefully we’ll see some application soon.