Atrial myxomas: Pathologic types, tumor location, and presenting symptoms

Michael F. Swartz, Charles J. Lutz, Vishal S. Chandan, Steve Landas, Gregory W. Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: Atrial myxoma is the most common cardiac neoplasm. Although not widely reported, two anatomic types have been observed: solid and papillary. We examined whether differences in gross or microscopic appearance and location correlated with symptomatology, specifically congestive heart failure (CHF), neurologic symptoms, and embolic events. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of atrial myxomas removed from 1972 to 2002, recording the clinical presentation, diagnostic modality, tumor location, gross, and microscopic features for each patient. Twenty-six patients (16 females and 10 males) had atrial myxomas excised. Two patients (one female and one male) were excluded due to unavailable pathologic slides. Results: In 24 patients there were 15 solid and 9 papillary tumors. CHF was more prevalent in solid myxomas, while neurologic symptoms and embolic events were more common in papillary tumors. Tumor location further correlated with presenting symptoms. Ninety-two percent of patients presenting with CHF had tumors attached to the atrial septum. Extraseptal myxomas more frequently presented with neurologic (80% vs. 29%) and embolic features (50% vs. 25%). All patients exhibiting clefted tumor surface had a history of embolization. A higher percentage of solid myxomas (93%) showed hemorrhage within the tumor than with papillary (56%). Conclusions: CHF was more common with solid myxomas, and neurologic and embolization events were more common in the papillary type. Septal tumor location showed strong association with CHF, while extraseptal location correlated with neurologic events. We speculate that the various gross and microscopic patterns reflect secondary changes within these neoplasms over the course of their natural history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-440
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of cardiac surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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