Cardiac tumors: three decades of experience from a tertiary center: are we changing diagnostic work-up with new imaging tools?

Gustavo Sá Mendes, João Abecasis, António Ferreira, Regina Ribeiras, Miguel Abecasis, Rosa Gouveia, Maria João Andrade, Miguel Mendes, Sância Ramos, Carla Saraiva, José Pedro Neves

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Primary cardiac tumours are relatively rare. Cardiac myxomas are the most prevalent and in a significant proportion of cases they are accidentally discovered in asymptomatic patients. Noninvasive definitive diagnosis remains challenging despite improvements provided by newer imaging tools. Our aim was to describe the long-term experience of a tertiary cardiac center managing cardiac tumours. Methods: We analyzed 154 consecutive patients admitted to a single-tertiary center with the diagnosis of a cardiac mass or tumor between 1990 and 2018. Data files including clinical presentation, noninvasive investigations, presumptive diagnosis and histopathology were collected. The follow-up was obtained from clinical records or telephone contact. Results: In 154 patients with a median age at diagnosis of 61 (51-71) years, 62% were females. Anatomopathology studywas obtained in 144 cases, from which 81% were benign tumours (106 myxomas; 11 papillary fibroelastomas). In comparison with malignant lesions, patients with benign tumours were older (62 versus 48 years) and more often women (65% versus 27%, P = .021). Incidental diagnosis of a benign tumor occurred in 36% of the cases. Transthoracic echocardiography was the initial technique for diagnostic suspicion in the great majority of patients. Both cardiac computed tomography and magnetic resonance were rarely performed before excision. Imaging based (mostly echocardiography) pre-operative presumptive diagnosis was discordant with histopathologic findings in 21% of the benign and in 55% of malignant lesions (previously considered as benign). Uncommon histologic findings were found in 18% of myxomas. During the follow-up period of 11 ± 12 years there were 12 recurrences. Conclusion: Among surgically excised cardiac tumours benign cardiac tumors are far more common than both primary and secondary malignancies. In this series of patients, there was a significant proportion of asymptomatic lesions. Preoperative misdiagnosis could be related to the scarce use of adjunctive noninvasive imaging tools beyond echocardiography. Preoperative noninvasive investigation should be expanded to improve diagnostic presumption and better plan the best therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107242
JournalCardiovascular Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Cardiac tumours
  • heterogeneous histopathologic findings
  • noninvasive cardiac imaging
  • three decades


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