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Cardiac Tumors

  • Primary tumors of the heart are rather rare and most cases of cardiac neoplasia are due to metastases from distant organs; however, it should be pointed out that most metastases have a greater tendency to seed the pericardium, leading to acute pericarditis and pericardial effusions. Below we discuss two types of primary cardiac tumors with myxomas being the most common of these rare neoplasms. In most cases, clinical consequences are due to physical obstruction of blood flow by large tumors.
Cardiac Myxomas
  • Cardiac Myxomas are benign tumors that are typically solitary and arise in the left atrium of adults. They appear as gelatinous globular masses covered by endocardium and are usually attached to the cardiac wall by a pedicle. Large tumors can display substantial motility and in some cases can move into the mitral valve, suddenly causing cessation of blood flow during diastole and thus result in syncope. In some cases, the myxoma can break up and result in systemic emboli.
Cardiac Rhabdomyomas
  • Cardiac Rhabdomyomas are benign tumors that are usually associated with Tuberous Sclerosis and thus tend to arise in children and infants. These lesions are frequently multiple and often project into the ventricular lumen, causing sudden obstruction of blood flow.