Background: The outcome of cardiac sarcoidosis is sometimes very poor. Ventricular tachycardia (VT) associated with cardiac sarcoidosis is the most common cause of sudden death among most patients. However, there is no established method for potential VT in patients with cardiac sarcoidosis. Thus, we investigated the utility of evaluation of gallium-67 scintigraphy for potential VT in patients with cardiac sarcoidosis.
Methods and results: Cardiac sarcoidosis was diagnosed in 25 patients at ours or collaborating hospitals during the period 1982 through 2004. Twenty-one of these patients were treated with corticosteroid, and these patients were divided into two groups, depending on whether VT was present: a non-VT group (n=7) and a VT group (n=14). Laboratory and gallium-67 scintigraphy findings were examined in both groups. During the follow-up period, initial and maintenance dosages of corticosteroid did not differ significantly between the groups. Accumulation of gallium-67 in the heart at the time of diagnosis was detected more frequently in the VT group than in the non-VT group (14.3 vs. 71.4%, p<0.05). Six of the seven VT patients who underwent follow-up examination showed improvement on the scintigram obtained after treatment. Five of the six showed no VT recurrence in terms of Holter electrocardiogram, electrophysiologic study, or delivery of implantable cardioverter defibrillator shock. Serum angiotensin-converting enzyme and lysozyme concentrations were within normal limits in most patients in both groups.
Conclusions: Activity of sarcoid granulomas may be associated with the occurrence of VT. Gallium-67 scintigraphy reflects the activity of sarcoid granulomas and thus is useful for evaluation of cardiac sarcoidosis in patients with potential VT.