The use of gallium-67, an isotope that is avid for areas of inflammation in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, is described and compared with endomyocardial biopsy in 68 consecutive patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. Myocarditis was diagnosed in 8% on biopsy and the likelihood of a positive biopsy when the gallium scan was positive for inflammation, rose to 36%. It is concluded that gallium scanning is a useful adjunct to biopsy in detecting myocarditis in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and in following patients with evidence of myocarditis on biopsy.
Disadvantages of gallium-67 imaging include the radiation dose accumulated with multiple scans and 72h delay from initial injection of the isotope to imaging. It is suggested that definitive conclusions regarding the technique should await the results of a large multicentre trial evaluating gallium in comparison with endomyocardial biopsy in the diagnosis of myocarditis.