Papillary fibroelastoma (PFE) is a rare benign tumour that attaches to the endocardial surface, mostly on cardiac valves. Though usually asymptomatic, it can be the source of several complications. To date, 49 cases have been reported of embolic stroke with a PFE as the probable origin.
Case reports: (i) a 39-year-old male presented with ischemic embolic stroke; the presence of a PFE was assessed by means of transoesophageal echocardiography and confirmed by pathological findings; (ii) a 32-year-old woman presented with sudden onset of left hemiparesis; a cardiogenic embolic stroke was suspected, and a diagnosis of PFE was made based on echocardiographic and pathological findings. In both cases, surgical excision of the tumours was performed with no recurrences at follow-up. Two mechanisms can explain the formation of emboli in PFE: dislodgement of the tumour leaves or fibrin-platelet aggregation on the endocardial surface of these leaves. Transthoracic echocardiography may lead to the suspicion of a PFE, but transoesophageal echocardiography is required for confirmation. Prompt surgical excision is indicated in most cases. Anticoagulation is only recommended in situations of high surgical risk and during the wait for surgery.