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LAC+USC Medical Center Student Handout

Cardiac Neoplasms

  • The most frequent cardiac neoplasm is a myxoma. Myxomas may be sporadic or familial, pedunculated (usual) or sessile. The majority are benign and only a few are malignant.
  • The sporadic form of a myxoma is benign, found only in a single chamber of the heart (left atrium most common). Once resected under CPB its recurrence is 5%.
  • The familial form has a higher incidence of being malignant. It may be found in multiple chambers of the heart and its recurrence is frequent with more aggressive behavior on each recurrence.
  • Other benign cardiac tumors include fibromas, lipomas. These are easily rected under CPB.
  • Malignant tumors of the heart are uniformly lethal. Rhabdomyosarcomas are the most frequent. They are commonly found in children. They may be resected but with major compromise of cardiac function. Chemothrapy and radiation therapy may be palliative but NOT very helpful.
  • Foreign bodies in the heart may become lodged in the papillary muscle and may appear as a neoplasm.
  • Indications for removal of a cardiac neoplasm include:
    • The presence of a neoplasm
    • Cardiac arrhythmias
    • Endocarditis
    • Compromised cardiac function


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