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Top: PET scans of the heart
Bottom: combined PET/CT
images of the heart
Left: 24 hours high-fat,
low-sugar diet
Right: 72 hours high-fat,
low sugar diet

Researchers develop new PET/CT technique to more accurately diagnose cardiac sarcoidosis

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago discovered a new PET/CT technique that can diagnose cardiac sarcoidosis much more accurately than traditional tests and determine if the disease affects other organs.

This inflammatory disease affects the lungs, heart and lymph nodes in particular, and can be challenging to diagnose. PET scans and CT scans, as well as scans that combine data from both have been used, but the results are often unclear, difficult to interpret and result in many false positives.

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The UIC team developed a PET/CT technique that requires a 72-hour high-fat, low-sugar diet before the exam is performed. In a previous study, they were able to diagnose cardiac sarcoidosis much more accurately and could diagnose cases that wouldn’t have been detected using the usual 24-hour high-fat, low-sugar diet normally prescribed.

For the current study, the team used the new technique to investigate the relationship between the presence of cardiac sarcoidosis and sarcoidosis in other areas of the body. Their goal was to determine if these patients would benefit from a more thorough exam.

They performed whole-body PET/CT scans on 188 patients who followed the 72-hour pre-test diet between December 2014 and December 2015 at the University of Illinois hospital. Out of the 20 patients who were diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, eight of them had sarcoidosis in other parts of the body.

The team concluded that more extensive, full-body scans of patients with known cardiac sarcoidosis can spot secondary sites of disease in a “significant number of patients.” This information can help physicians more accurately stage the treatment and treat it accordingly.

However, the researchers caution that the technique needs to undergo additional testing to evaluate its ultimate contribution to the outcomes of patients with cardiac sarcoidosis.

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