Atrial myxoma

Definition of Atrial myxoma

An atrial myxoma is a noncancerous tumor in the upper left or right side of the heart. It grows on the wall (atrial septum) that separates the two sides of the heart.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A myxoma is a primary heart (cardiac) tumor. This means that the tumor started within the heart. Most heart tumors start somewhere else.

Symptoms

Symptoms may occur at any time, but most often they accompany a change of body position. Symptoms may include:

Signs and tests

The health care provider will listen to the heart with stethoscope. A “tumor plop” (a sound related to movement of the tumor), abnormal heart sounds, or murmur may be heard. These sounds may change when the patient changes position.

Treatment

The tumor must be surgically removed. Some patients will also need their mitral valve replaced. This can be done during the same surgery.

Expectations (prognosis)

Although a myxoma is not cancer, complications are common. Untreated, a myxoma can lead to an (tumor cells breaking off and traveling with the bloodstream), which can block blood flow or cause the myxoma to grow in another part of the body. Myxoma fragments can move to the brain, eye, or limbs.

Review

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Director, Northwestern Clinic Echocardiography Lab, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/1/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view
Left atrial myxoma

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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