Value of CMR for the differential diagnosis of cardiac masses

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2014 Sep;7(9):896-905. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2014.05.009. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic value of CMR features for the differential diagnosis of cardiac masses.

Background: Differentiation of cardiac tumors and thrombi and differentiation of benign from malignant cardiac neoplasms is often challenging but important in clinical practice. Studies assessing the value of cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) in this regard are scarce.

Methods: We reviewed the CMR scans of patients with a definite cardiac thrombus or tumor. Mass characteristics on cine, T1-weighted turbo spin echo (T1w-TSE) and T2-weighted turbo spin echo (T2w-TSE), contrast first-pass perfusion (FPP), post-contrast inversion time (TI) scout, and late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) sequences were analyzed.

Results: There were 84 thrombi, 17 benign tumors, and 25 malignant tumors in 116 patients. Morphologically, thrombi were smaller (median area 1.6 vs. 8.5 cm(2); p < 0.0001), more homogeneous (99% vs. 46%; p < 0.0001), and less mobile (13% vs. 33%; p = 0.007) than tumors. Hyperintensity compared with normal myocardium on T2w-TSE, FPP, and LGE were more common in tumors than in thrombi (85% vs. 42%, 70% vs. 4%, and 71% vs. 5%, respectively; all p < 0.0001). A pattern of hyperintensity/isointensity (compared with normal myocardium) with short TI and hypointensity with long TI was very frequent in thrombi (94%), rare in tumors (2%), and had the highest accuracy (95%) for the differentiation of both entities. Regarding the characterization of neoplastic masses, malignant tumors were larger (median area 11.9 vs. 6.3 cm(2); p = 0.006) and more frequently exhibited FPP (84% vs. 47%; p = 0.03) and LGE (92% vs. 41%; p = 0.001). The ability of CMR features to distinguish benign from malignant neoplasms was moderate, with LGE showing the highest accuracy (79%).

Conclusions: CMR features demonstrated excellent accuracy for the differentiation of cardiac thrombi from tumors and can be helpful for the distinction of benign versus malignant neoplasms.

Keywords: benign cardiac tumor; cardiac mass; cardiac thrombus; cardiac tumor; cardiac magnetic resonance; diagnosis; malignant cardiac tumor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contrast Media
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Heart Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Heart Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombosis / diagnosis*
  • Thrombosis / pathology


  • Contrast Media