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Alternative Cardiac Imaging Modalities to Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Infective Endocarditis.

Infective endocarditis (IE) is a life-threatening disease. Considered the gold standard for the diagnosis of IE, the modified Duke criteria rely on echocardiographic findings to satisfy its major criterion. Echocardiography is an invaluable tool in the evaluation of patients with suspected IE but suffers from certain limitations. For example, it cannot differentiate vegetation from clot, or between infected and noninfected vegetation, and may miss vegetation and periannular extensions in the presence of prosthetic material. Therefore, alternative cardiac imaging modalities are needed. Nuclear imaging, particularly 18 F-fluorodesoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (CT), is becoming increasingly popular in the evaluation of patients for IE and has shown promise in diagnosing valvular and device-related IE when echocardiography results were inconclusive. Other techniques such as radiolabeled leukocyte scintigraphy and single-photon emission computed tomography with or without CT are less well studied, however. Cardiac CT angiography is also evolving as a powerful supplementary tool to echocardiography for the detection of perivalvular complications of IE and for preoperative evaluation of coronary anatomy. The combination of cardiac CT angiography and echocardiography is superior to either test alone in the diagnosis of IE and its complications. Although brain magnetic resonance imaging may impact prognosis and clinical management by identifying cerebral emboli in patients with IE, the role of cardiac and abdominal magnetic resonance imaging is less clear. In conclusion, with these additional diagnostic tools at our disposal, the diagnosis of IE may be achieved in a more timely and accurate manner to secure better clinical outcomes.

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