Letters To The Editor

Cardiac mass: Tumor or thrombus?

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To the Editor: We read with great interest the article by Patnaik et al 1 about a patient who had a cardiac metastasis of ovarian cancer, and we would like to raise a few points.

It is important to clarify that metastatic cardiac tumors are not necessary malignant. Intravenous leiomyomatosis is a benign small-muscle tumor that can spread to the heart, causing various cardiac symptoms. 2 Even with extensive disease, patients with intravenous leiomyomatosis may remain asymptomatic until cardiac involvement occurs. The most common cardiac symptoms are dyspnea, syncope, and lower-extremity edema.

Cardiac involvement in intravenous leiomyomatosis may occur via direct invasion or hematogenous or lymphatic spread of the tumor. In leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma, cardiac invasion usually occurs via direct spread through the inferior vena cava into the right atrium and ventricle. Thus, cardiac involvement with these tumors (except for nephroma) was reported to exclusively involve the right side of the heart.

In 2014, we reported a unique case of intravenous leiomyomatosis that extended from the right side into the left side of the heart and the aorta via an atrial septal defect. 2 Intracardiac extension of intravenous leiomyomatosis may result in pulmonary embolism, systemic embolization if involving the left side, and, rarely, sudden death. 2

In patients with malignancy, differentiating between thrombosis and tumor is critical. These patients have a hypercoagulable state and a fourfold increase in thrombosis risk, and chemotherapy increases this risk even more. 3 Although tissue pathology examination is important for differentiating thrombosis from tumor, visualization of the direct extension of the mass from the primary source into the heart through the inferior vena cava by ultrasonography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging may help in making this distinction. 2

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