CT and MR imaging of primary cardiac malignancies

Philip A. Araoz, Heidi E. Eklund, Timothy J. Welch, Jerome F. Breen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


Primary cardiac malignancies are rare tumors that are difficult to diagnose clinically. Different primary cardiac malignancies may have different clinical, morphologic, and radiologic features and intracardiac locations. Angiosarcoma is the most common primary cardiac malignancy. It tends to occur in the right atrium and involve the pericardium. Because of its tendency to hemorrhage, angiosarcoma often demonstrates areas of increased signal intensity with T1-weighted sequences. Undifferentiated sarcomas typically occur in the left atrium and have variable epidemiologic and radiologic features. Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common primary cardiac malignancy in children and is more likely than other primary cardiac sarcomas to involve the valves. Primary cardiac osteogenic sarcoma almost always occurs in the left atrium and frequently demonstrates calcification. Certain features (eg, broad base of attachment, origin at a site other than the atrial septum) help differentiate this tumor from left atrial myxoma. Leiomyosarcoma favors the left atrium and tends to invade the pulmonary veins and mitral valve. Fibrosarcoma also tends to occur in the left atrium and is often necrotic. Liposarcoma is very rare and usually manifests as a large, infiltrating mass. Foci of macroscopic fat are occasionally seen. Primary cardiac lymphoma occurs more commonly in immunocompromised patients, frequently involves the pericardium, and, unlike other primary cardiac malignancies, may respond to chemotherapy. The advent of cross-sectional imaging has allowed earlier detection of primary cardiac malignancies as well as more accurate diagnosis and characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1421-1434
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • Angiosarcoma, 51.324
  • Heart, CT, 51.1211
  • Heart, MR, 51.1214
  • Heart, neoplasms, 51.321, 51.3221, 51.3231, 51.324, 51.329, 51.34
  • Leiomyosarcoma, 51.325
  • Liposarcoma, 51.371
  • Lymphoma, 51.34
  • Osteosarcoma, 51.324
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, 51.321

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'CT and MR imaging of primary cardiac malignancies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this