Cardiac myxoma as a mimic: a diagnostic challenge.

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The American journal of emergency medicine

MeSH Headings

Adolescent, Child, Diagnosis, Differential, Diagnostic Imaging, Female, Heart Neoplasms, Humans, Male, Myxoma




OBJECTIVE: Patients with occult, undiagnosed cardiac myxomas (CM) often present with acute complications that mimic other, more common, conditions. We describe two recently encountered patients who classically demonstrate this phenomenon and report the results of an integrative review of CM cases to define the characteristics of such patients.

METHODS: A comprehensive 20-year review of reported cases that described patient-specific data of CM was performed. Using a standardized tool, the following elements were collected: age; gender; presenting symptoms and signs; diagnostic and management approaches; and outcomes.

RESULTS: One hundred twenty-six cases of CM were identified. The mean patient age was 47.5 years (range, 6-90). Seventy (56%) were women. The most common mimic conditions initially being considered were cardiac complications, including acutely decompensated heart failure, myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia and sudden death (46%); systemic embolization, including cutaneous infarction and pulmonary embolism (23%); central nervous system embolization, including transient ischemic attack and acute stroke syndrome (22%); and constitutional conditions, such as fever, myalgia, arthralgia, fatigue, and myxoma infections (17%). Echocardiography proved to be a readily available and accurate diagnostic test. The majority of reported patients experienced full recoveries after surgical intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: CM is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition. Symptoms and signs relating to CM mimic other, more common conditions, resulting in diagnostic delay. Echocardiography can quickly and accurately diagnose CM and timely surgical intervention is curative. Clinician awareness of this condition, in a suggestive clinical context, will increase the likelihood of optimal patient outcome.

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