CT for intracardiac thrombi and tumors

Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2005 Feb;21(1):115-31. doi: 10.1007/s10554-004-5342-x.


Although cardiac tumors are rare, they nevertheless represent an important subgroup, the diagnosis of which is challenging for the primary care physician. Symptoms are not characteristic and serious complications including stroke, myocardial infarction and even sudden death from arrhythmia may be the first signs of tumor. The most common primary cardiac neoplasm is the benign myxoma and the most frequent primary malignant lesion is sarcoma. Cardiac metastases from distant primary carcinomas are now frequently encountered. Echocardiography until the past decade was the only consistently reliable and available non-invasive diagnostic tool. New non-invasive CT and MRI exams are changing the diagnostic approach. Echocardiography and angiocardiography with or without coronary arteriography remain routine methods for evaluating cardiac neoplasms. However, CT provides additional diagnostic information and is regarded as essential for adequate staging and treatment planning, particularly when surgical resection is being considered. This chapter reviews the wide spectrum of intracardiac thrombi and tumors including their incidence and imaging characteristics with particular reference to the CT findings and differential diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Heart Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Myxoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sarcoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*