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Atrial myxoma - left
Alternative namesTumor - heart; Cardiac tumor; Myxoma - atrial; Myxoma - heart tumor
This is a benign tumor located in the left upper chamber of the heart (atrium) on the wall that separates the left chamber from the right (the atrial septum). See also atrial myxoma - right
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
A myxoma is a primary heart (cardiac) tumor. This means that the initial site of the growth was within the heart, which is uncommon with heart tumors. Most have spread from elsewhere in the body (metastasized).
Primary cardiac tumors are rare, but among them, myxomas are the most common. Over 80% of myxomas occur in the left atrium, usually beginning in the wall that divides the upper chambers of the heart (atrial septum) and growing into the atrium. However, right atrial myxoma may also occur.
Myxomas are more common in women.
Symptoms may occur or at any time, but most often they accompany a change of body position. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms and signs of left atrial myxomas often mimic mitral stenosis.
General symptoms may also be present, such as:
These general symptoms may also mimic those of infective endocarditis.
Signs and tests
Listening to the heart with a stethoscope, the doctor may hear a "tumor plop" (a sound related to movement of the tumor ), abnormal heart sounds, or murmurs. These findings may change when the patient's body changes position.
The first diagnostic test is usually an echocardiogram (a test based on ultrasound waves to view the heart), often accompanied with a Doppler study . The echocardiogram allows visualization of the myxoma, cardiac valves and heart structure. Other tests include:
An ECG may demonstrate atrial fibrillation .
Laboratory tests which may be altered include:
The only effective treatment is surgical excision (removal) of the tumor . During the same procedure, some patients will also need to have their mitral valve replaced.
Myxomas may recur if the surgical removal was incomplete.
The probable outcome is poor without treatment. Although a myxoma is a benign tumor, complications are common.
One complication of untreated myxoma is embolization (tumor cells breaking off and traveling with the bloodstream), which can obstruct a blood vessel or plant a myxoma in another part of the body where it can cause symptoms. Myxoma fragments can embolize to the brain, eye, or limbs.
Another complication is the local growth of the tumor, which can obstruct blood flow through the mitral heart valve and produce clinical symptoms of mitral stenosis .The outlook for someone who had a left atrial myxoma that has been surgically removed is good; and patients usually remain symptom-free and have a normal lifespan.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if symptoms indicate you may have an atrial myxoma.
Awareness of the disorder can make early detection and treatment possible.
When myxoma is confirmed in a patient, the patient's relatives might undergo screening to rule out the familial form of the disorder.
Update Date: 11/9/2002Elena Sgarbossa, M.D., Department of Cardiology, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT