Atrial Myxoma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumour located on the upper left or right side of the heart. It grows on the wall that separates the two sides of the heart.
Symptoms may occur at any time but usually occur when there is a change in body position. They include:
Other general symptoms include:
An atrial myxoma is a primary heart tumour which originates within the heart; most heart tumours start somewhere else before spreading to the heart by the bloodstream or by direct invasion.
Primary cardiac tumours are rare and myxomas are the most common. The majority of myxomas occur in the left atrium of the heart, usually beginning in the wall that divides the two upper chambers of the heart. The rest are in the right atrium. Right atrial myxomas are sometimes associated with aneurysms.
Atrial myxomas are more common in women. About 10% of myxomas are inherited. Such tumours are called familial myxomas. They tend to occur in more than one part of the heart at a time, and often cause symptoms at a younger age than other myxomas.
The doctor may call for a variety of imaging tests to confirm the existence of an atrial myxoma. They include
chest x-rays, cardiac computed tomography scans, and
Although atrial myxomas are not cancerous, complications are common. If left untreated, they can embolise (tumour cells breaking off and traveling with the bloodstream). This can block blood flow or cause the myxoma to grow in another part of the body. Myxoma fragments can move to the brain, eye, or limbs.
If the tumour grows inside the heart, it can block blood flow through the mitral (left) or tricuspid (right) valve and cause symptoms of
mitral or tricuspid stenosis. This may require emergency surgery to prevent sudden death.
The tumour must be surgically removed and some patients may need their mitral valve or tricuspid valve replaced as well.
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