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Myocarditis, also called acute heart dysfunction, is inflammation of the heart muscle. An uncommon disorder, myocarditis is usually caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections that reach the heart. Other causes include allergic reactions to toxins and diseases that cause inflammation throughout the body.

Symptoms of the disease, particularly in early stages and in mild cases, may be subtle and difficult to identify. The clinical course of myocarditis is variable, which contributes to the difficulty of diagnosing the disease. Patients may experience fatigue, arrhythmias and chest pain at rest. Diagnosis has traditionally required a biopsy of of heart muscle or electrocardiography.

How does molecular imaging help people with myocarditis?

PET and SPECT imaging targeted at inflammation or muscle injury provides a non-invasive and sensitive alternative to identifying the primary cause of myocarditis.