Heart and Great Vessels: Cardiac Tumors


Heart and Great Vessels: Cardiac Tumors

In the pediatric age group, primary cardiac tumors are extremely rare; a prevalence of 0.0017 to 0.28% in autopsy series has been reported. However, with the increasing use of CT and MRI, they may be identified more often, and radiologists should be familiar with their imaging findings.

The majority of primary cardiac tumors are benign, and less then 10% are malignant. However, the majority of cases will be secondary tumors and/or metastatic disease.

Table 1.80 Cardiac tumors—septal/myocardial tumor




Benign tumors


Solitary tumor.

Primary location ventricular septum.

Calcifications are common.

Low attenuation on CT.

Isointense on T1-weighted and hypointense on T2-weighted images. Little to no enhancement after gadolinium.

Can extend into the ventricular conduction system and cause arrhythmia.

Can be associated with Gorlin syndrome.


Atrial and ventricular wall.

Heterogeneous, encapsulated cystic masses.

Rare tumor, most often arising from the pericardial space.


Can be found anywhere in the heart.

Subendocardial nodules (2–4 cm diameter).

Exceedingly rare cardiac tumor.

Histiocytic nodule

Nodular deposits on the valves or ventricular endocardium on US.

Also known as infantile histiocytic cardiomyopathy, oncocytic cardiomyopathy, histiocytic cardiomyopathy, Purkinje cell tumor, focal lipid cardiomyopathy, and idiopathic infantile cardiomyopathy.

Malignant tumors

Intrapericardial pheochromocytoma

Vascular tumor arising from the autonomic paraganglia.

Predominantly in atrial septum.

Metastatic cardiac tumors

Multiple discrete firm epicardial nodules on autopsy.

Melanoma has a tendency to spread to the heart.

Estimated to be 20 times more common than primary cardiac tumors.

Table 1.81 Cardiac tumors—intracardiac tumor




Benign tumors


Bright intramural mass on cardiac US.

Predominantly in the ventricular myocardium.

Often multiple lesions.

Can protrude into the cardiac cavity.

Most common benign primary cardiac tumor (> 60%). Preferential cardiac location intraventricular. Strongly related to tuberous sclerosis, present in 43%–72% of patients.


Primary location in left atrium (90%), but also found in right atrium.

Mostly a solitary tumor.

Pediculated mass with irregular nonhomogeneous small lucencies on US.

Heterogeneous mass with low attenuation on CT. Heterogeneous mass, bright on T2-weighted imaging with heterogeneous enhancement after gadolinium.

Most common primary cardiac tumor in adults.

Can be associated with Carney complex (autosomal dominant syndrome of cardiac myxomas and hyperpigmented skin lesions), LAMB (l entigines, a trial myxoma, m ucocutaneous myxoma, b lue nevi), and NAME (n aevi, a trial myxoma, m yxoid neurofibroma, e pithelides).


Can be found anywhere in the heart.

Subendocardial nodules (2–4 cm diameter).

Exceedingly rare cardiac tumor.

Malignant tumors


Most common malignant tumor in adults.

Primary location right atrium.

Broad-based mass with epicardial, endocardial, and/or intracavitary extension.

Areas of high signal intensity on T1-weighted images, focal or linear along pericardium.

Pulmonary metastatic disease is a common finding.


Fig. 1.213a, b

Can occur in any heart chamber.

More likely to involve valves.

Variable appearance from completely solid to mostly cystic/necrotic.

Poor prognosis.


Can occur in any heart chamber, with preference for the left atrium.

Mostly multifocal.

Often lobulated mass.

Poor prognosis, death within 1 y after diagnosis.

Metastatic cardiac tumors

Fig. 1.214, p. 124

Can be seen as an extension of tumor thrombus (e.g., Wilms tumor).

Hematologic spread most common.

Fig. 1.213a, b Rhabdomyosarcoma. (a) Axial T1-weighted post-contrast. Note the presence of lung metastases (arrowhead). Biopsy proved primary, maliganant cardiac rhabdomyosarcoma in atrial septum (arrow). (Courtesy of A. Taylor, MD, FRCP, FRCR, Cardio-respiratory Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health & Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, United Kingdom.) (b) Balanced steady-state free precession cine image (systolic frame) of the same patient shows extension into the anterior leaflet of the mitral valve (arrow), which is a finding suggestive of malignancy.
Fig. 1.214 Metastatic osteosarcoma to the right ventricle in a 17-year-old girl (arrow).

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Jul 12, 2020 | Posted by in PEDIATRIC IMAGING | Comments Off on Heart and Great Vessels: Cardiac Tumors
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