MediFind
Condition

Atrial Myxoma

Condition 101

What is the definition of Atrial Myxoma?

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

What are the alternative names for Atrial Myxoma?

Cardiac tumor - myxoma; Heart tumor - myxoma

What are the causes for Atrial Myxoma?

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

Primary cardiac tumors are rare. Myxomas are the most common type of these rare tumors. About 75% of myxomas occur in the left atrium of the heart. They most often begin in the wall that divides the two upper chambers of the heart. The rest are in the right atrium. Right atrial myxomas are sometimes linked with tricuspid stenosis and atrial fibrillation.

Myxomas are more common in women. About 1 in 10 myxomas are passed down through families (inherited). These 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.

What are the symptoms for Atrial Myxoma?

Many myxomas will not cause symptoms. These are often discovered when an imaging study (echocardiogram, MRI, CT) is done for another reason.

Symptoms may occur at any time, but often they go along with a change in body position.

Symptoms of a myxoma may include:

  • Breathing difficulty when lying flat or on one side or the other
  • Breathing difficulty when asleep
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sensation of feeling your heart beat (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath with activity

The symptoms and signs of left atrial myxomas often mimic mitral stenosis (narrowing of the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle). Right atrial myxomas rarely produce symptoms until they have grown to be quite large (5 inches wide, or 13 cm).

Other symptoms may include:

  • Blueness of skin, especially on the fingers (Raynaud phenomenon)
  • Cough
  • Curvature of nails accompanied by soft tissue swelling (clubbing) of the fingers
  • Fever
  • Fingers that change color upon pressure or with cold or stress
  • General discomfort (malaise)
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling in any part of the body
  • Weight loss without trying

What are the current treatments for Atrial Myxoma?

Surgery is needed to remove the tumor, especially if it is causing heart failure symptoms or an embolism. Some people will also need the mitral valve replaced. This can be done during the same surgery.

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

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Atrial Myxoma?

A myxoma is not cancer, but complications are common.

Untreated, a myxoma can lead to an embolism (tumor cells or a clot that breaks off and travels in the bloodstream). This can lead to a blockage of blood flow or even cause the tumor to grow in another part of the body. Pieces of the tumor can move to the brain, eye, or limbs.

If the tumor grows inside the heart, it can block blood flow. This may require emergency surgery to prevent sudden death.

What are the possible complications for Atrial Myxoma?

Complications may include:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Peripheral emboli
  • Spread (metastasis) of the tumor
  • Blockage of the mitral heart valve

REFERENCES

Lenihan DJ, Yusuf SW, Shah A. Tumors affecting the cardiovascular system. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 95.

Mckenna WJ, Elliott P. Diseases of the myocardium and endocardium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 60.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Closure of Atrial Septal Defects (ASDs)
  • Journal: Journal of cardiac surgery
  • Treatment Used: Autologous Right Atrial Free Wall as Patch
  • Number of Patients: 157
  • Published —
This study described experience with right atrial free wall patch in the treatment of atrial septal defects (ASDs).
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Giant right atrial myxoma
  • Journal: BMJ case reports
  • Treatment Used: Surgical removal of mass under cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
The study reported a case of giant right atrial myxoma presenting as right heart failure in a 37-year-old man.
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Infected Left Atrial Myxoma Presenting
  • Journal: The American journal of case reports
  • Treatment Used: Percutaneous intervention, antibiotics, and mitral valve replacement
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
The study reported a case of infected left atrial myxoma presenting as ST-elevation myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Mitral valve disease
  • Journal: Journal of cardiothoracic surgery
  • Treatment Used: Totally thoracoscopic procedure
  • Number of Patients: 53
  • Published —
This study evaluated the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of the totally thoracoscopic procedure for mitral valve disease.

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial
Other
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Participants: 3000
  • Start Date: April 6, 2017
Familial Investigations of Childhood Cancer Predisposition