Cardioembolic stroke in the setting of diffuse caseous calcification of the anterolateral papillary muscle

BMJ Case Rep. 2023 Nov 17;16(11):e254549. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2022-254549.


A woman in her 70s was admitted for acute, painless vision loss in the left eye. Examination showed cherry red spot in the macula and plaque in the nasal vessels, consistent with central retinal artery occlusion. MRI orbits revealed multifocal subclinical acute infarcts in the right middle cerebral artery (MCA) territory and bilateral cerebella. Transthoracic echocardiogram showed calcification of the anterolateral papillary muscle. Further characterisation with cardiac MRI elucidated caseous 'toothpaste-like' calcification of the muscle complex. Stroke workup was otherwise unremarkable. The patient underwent hyperbaric treatment with mild improvement. Anticoagulation and surgical intervention were deferred due to known risks and unknown benefit for calcific emboli. The patient was continued on her home dual anti-platelet therapy (DAPT) and discharged with a loop monitor. Caseous calcification of the papillary muscle (CCPM) may be a risk factor for cardioembolic stroke. Further discussions on medical and surgical guidelines for CCPM would be beneficial for stroke prevention.

Keywords: Cardiovascular medicine; Neurology; Radiology (diagnostics); Stroke; Visual pathway.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Calcinosis* / complications
  • Calcinosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Echocardiography
  • Embolic Stroke*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Papillary Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Retinal Artery Occlusion* / etiology
  • Stroke* / complications