Eleven years' experience with Korean cardiac myxoma patients: focus on embolic complications

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2012;33(5):471-9. doi: 10.1159/000335830. Epub 2012 Apr 19.


Background: Cardiac myxomas are rare but are the most common cardiac tumors. This study is based on our clinical experience with cardiac myxomas over a period of 11 years at Sejong General Hospital. We focused on the embolic complications of patients with cardiac myxoma.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 59 consecutive patients with cardiac myxoma who were treated between January 2000 and March 2011. The myxomas were divided into two types: type 1, with an irregular or villous surface and a soft consistency, and type 2, with a smooth surface and a compact consistency. The 59 investigated patients were classified into the embolic group and the non-embolic group.

Results: Cardiac obstructive symptoms, embolic events and constitutional symptoms were observed in 37 (62.7%), 13 (22.0%) and 10 (16.9%) patients, respectively. When the embolic and non-embolic groups were compared, there were no significant differences in vascular risk factors, the ejection fraction, the left atrial diameter or the tumor size. However, type 1 myxomas were significantly more frequent in the embolic group (p = 0.009 by Fisher's exact test). A binary logistic regression analysis showed that type 1 pathology alone was independently associated with myxoma-related embolism (p = 0.008; odds ratio 10.056; 95% confidence interval 1.828-55.337). There were no operative deaths in any of the 59 patients studied. Among the 13 patients with embolism, 11 (84.6%) had brain infarcts. The main patterns of the lesions were multiple lesions (8 out of 11 patients, 72.7%) and lesions in the middle cerebral artery territories (7 out of 11 patients, 63.6%). The other 2 patients were found to have occlusion of the left central retinal artery and left external iliac artery. Additionally, incidental cerebral aneurysms were found in the latter case. There was no recurrence of myxoma or myxoma-related symptoms in the 53 patients receiving outpatient management during the follow-up period (range 2 months to 11 years).

Conclusions: The embolic potential of myxoma was associated with an irregular surface pathology but not with vascular risk factors. Echocardiography should be performed in patients with embolic events, especially when cerebral infarcts with multiple territorial lesions are detected. Surgical resection is a relatively safe and curative procedure for cardiac myxoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / epidemiology
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / etiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Cerebral Infarction / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Infarction / etiology
  • Chest Pain / epidemiology
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Embolism / epidemiology
  • Embolism / etiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Neoplasms / complications*
  • Heart Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Heart Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myxoma / complications*
  • Myxoma / epidemiology
  • Myxoma / surgery
  • Regression Analysis
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Stroke / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome