A Clinico-Pathologic Approach to the Differential Diagnosis of Pericardial Tumors

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2021 Jul 16;23(9):119. doi: 10.1007/s11886-021-01548-6.


Purpose of review: Tumors of the pericardium are rare, but a wide variety of congenital, infectious, inflammatory, and neoplastic processes have been reported. Pericardial tumors can be categorized as non-neoplastic or neoplastic. Neoplastic lesions can be further divided into benign or malignant, with malignancies being either primary or secondary (metastatic). Clinical, radiographic, and pathologic features of the most common entities are discussed.

Recent findings: Metastatic neoplasms involving the heart and pericardium are far more common than primary pericardial neoplasms. Of primary pericardial malignancies, mesothelioma is the most common; notably, cytology of effusion fluid is relatively insensitive to the diagnosis. The prognosis for most malignancies of the pericardium, primary or secondary, is poor. Increasingly, clinically recognized diseases that involve the pericardium include Erdheim-Chester and IgG4-related disease. This article provides a comprehensive review of the most recent literature to develop a structured framework to the differential diagnosis of pericardial tumors.

Keywords: Pericardial effusion; Pericardial mass; Pericardial tumor; Pericardium; Pericardium metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Heart Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma* / diagnosis
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant*
  • Pericardium / diagnostic imaging