Cardiac positron emission tomography enhances prognostic assessments of patients with suspected cardiac sarcoidosis

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Feb 4;63(4):329-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2013.09.022. Epub 2013 Oct 16.


Objectives: This study sought to relate imaging findings on positron emission tomography (PET) to adverse cardiac events in patients referred for evaluation of known or suspected cardiac sarcoidosis.

Background: Although cardiac PET is commonly used to evaluate patients with suspected cardiac sarcoidosis, the relationship between PET findings and clinical outcomes has not been reported.

Methods: We studied 118 consecutive patients with no history of coronary artery disease, who were referred for PET, using [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) to assess for inflammation and rubidium-82 to evaluate for perfusion defects (PD), following a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet to suppress normal myocardial glucose uptake. Blind readings of PET data categorized cardiac findings as normal, positive PD or FDG, positive PD and FDG. Images were also used to identify whether findings of extra-cardiac sarcoidosis were present. Adverse events (AE)-death or sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT)-were ascertained by electronic medical records, defibrillator interrogation, patient questionnaires, and telephone interviews.

Results: Among the 118 patients (age 52 ± 11 years; 57% males; mean ejection fraction: 47 ± 16%), 47 (40%) had normal and 71 (60%) had abnormal cardiac PET findings. Over a median follow-up of 1.5 years, there were 31 (26%) adverse events (27 VT and 8 deaths). Cardiac PET findings were predictive of AE, and the presence of both a PD and abnormal FDG (29% of patients) was associated with hazard ratio of 3.9 (p < 0.01) and remained significant after adjusting for left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and clinical criteria. Extra-cardiac FDG uptake (26% of patients) was not associated with AE.

Conclusions: The presence of focal PD and FDG uptake on cardiac PET identifies patients at higher risk of death or VT. These findings offer prognostic value beyond Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare clinical criteria, the presence of extra-cardiac sarcoidosis and LVEF.

Keywords: CMR; CT; EMBx; FDG; ICD; JMHW; Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare; LVEF; PET; RV; VT; cardiac magnetic resonance imaging; computed tomography; endomyocardial biopsy; fluorodeoxyglucose; implantable cardiac defibrillator; left ventricular ejection fraction; positron emission tomography; prognosis; right ventricular; sarcoidosis; ventricular tachycardia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cardiomyopathies / mortality
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Rubidium Radioisotopes
  • Sarcoidosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sarcoidosis / mortality
  • Sarcoidosis / physiopathology
  • Stroke Volume / physiology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / epidemiology


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Rubidium Radioisotopes
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18