Atrial myxoma

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Atrial myxoma
Atrial myxoma high mag.jpg
Micrograph of an atrial myxoma. H&E stain.
Classification and external resources
DiseasesDB 1075
MedlinePlus 007273

An atrial myxoma is a benign tumor of the heart, commonly found within the left and right atria on the interatrial septum.


Myxomas are the most common type of primary heart tumor.[1]

The tumor is derived from multipotential mesenchymal cells and may cause a ball valve-type obstruction.

About 75% of myxomas occur in the left atrium of the heart, usually beginning in the wall that divides the two upper chambers of the heart. The rest are in the right atrium. Right atrial myxomas are sometimes associated with tricuspid stenosis and atrial fibrillation.

Myxomas are more common in women. About 10% of myxomas are passed down through families (inherited). Such tumors are called familial myxomas. They tend to occur in more than one part of the heart at a time, and often cause symptoms at a younger age than other myxomas.


Symptoms may occur 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.


A doctor will listen to the heart with stethoscope. A "tumor plop" (a sound related to movement of the tumor), abnormal heart sounds, or a murmur similar to the mid-diastolic rumble of mitral stenosis may be heard. These sounds may change when the patient changes position.

Right atrial myxomas rarely produce symptoms until they have grown to be at least 13 cm (about 5 inches) wide.

Tests may include:

Blood tests: A FBC may show anemia and increased WBCs (white blood cells). The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is usually increased.


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

Myxomas may come back if surgery did not remove all of the tumor cells.


An embolized fragment of an atrial myxoma in the iliac bifurcation.

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

If the tumor grows inside the heart, it can block blood flow through the mitral valve and cause symptoms of mitral stenosis. This may require emergency surgery to prevent sudden death.


Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]

Other primary cardiac tumours include:


  1. ^ Vaideeswar, P.; Butany, JW. (Feb 2008). "Benign cardiac tumors of the pluripotent mesenchyme.". Semin Diagn Pathol 25 (1): 20–8. doi:10.1053/j.semdp.2007.10.005. PMID 18350919. 
  2. ^ Eric J. Topol. The Topol Solution: Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, Third Edition with DVD, Plus Integrated Content Website, Volume 355. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Oct 19, 2006; page 223. ISBN 0781770122