Atrial Myxomas: A Single Unit's Experience in the Modern Era


  • Corinne E. Owers
  • Paul Vaughan
  • Peter C. Braidley
  • Glen A. L. Wilkinson
  • Timothy J. Locke
  • Graham J. Cooper
  • Norman P. Briffa
  • David N. Hopkinson
  • Pradip K. Sarkar



Background: Although an atrial myxoma is the commonest cardiac tumor, it is still relatively rare, with an annual incidence of approximately 0.5 per million. In our unit, which performs 1000 major cardiac procedures per year, this equates to approximately 3 patients annually. We therefore sought to evaluate our experience of managing this type of tumor over the last 5 years.

Methods: A retrospective review was performed of prospectively collected data from the departmental database. We analyzed consecutive patients who were operated upon between 2002 and 2007. Three patients with a papillary fibroelastoma on histological examination were excluded from this study.

Results: We have performed excision of atrial myxoma in 18 patients. Twelve patients (66%) were female; the median age was 64 years (range, 35-80 years), and the median logistic euroSCORE was 5.22% (range, 1.51-27.82%). Fifteen patients (83%) were deemed urgent, 2 elective, and 1 emergency. Sixteen tumors (89%) were left sided. Symptoms attributable to the tumor were found in 16 of the 18 patients (embolic, n = 9; chest pain, n = 3; palpitations, n = 2; incidental finding, n = 2, others n = 4), and the mean time from diagnosis to operation was 3 days (range, 0-22 months). The median cardiopulmonary bypass time was 87 minutes (range, 28-228 minutes), with the median aortic cross clamp time being 61 minutes (16-175 minutes).

The approaches used were transeptal via right atriotomy (n = 8), biatrial/Dubost (n = 4), left atrial (n = 4), and right atrial (n = 2); the interatrial septum was involved in 14 patients. The resultant defect was closed using a pericardial (n = 8) or prosthetic patch (n = 5) or directly sutured (n = 5). Concomitant procedures were performed in 8 patients (coronary artery bypass graft [CABG], n = 4; mitral valve replacement [MVR], n = 2; valve + grafts, n = 2). All tumors were completely excised.

Postoperatively there were no deaths within 30 days of the procedure. Indeed, only 2 patients have died at 4 and 25 months postoperatively, respectively, both of unrelated causes. Median intensive therapy unit (ITU) stay was 2 days (range, 1-9 days), and median hospital stay was 10 days (range, 5-20 days). A permanent pacemaker was required in only 1 patient, and median blood loss was 340 mL (range, 140-1760 mL). Atrial fibrillation was the commonest complication affecting 6/18 patients (33%).

Conclusions: Excision of atrial myxoma can be performed using a variety of intraoperative approaches and closure techniques, all with acceptable postoperative morbidity and low mortality rates. To date, no recurrences have been found at median 2-year follow-up.


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How to Cite

Owers, C. E., Vaughan, P., Braidley, P. C., Wilkinson, G. A. L., Locke, T. J., Cooper, G. J., Briffa, N. P., Hopkinson, D. N., & Sarkar, P. K. (2012). Atrial Myxomas: A Single Unit’s Experience in the Modern Era. The Heart Surgery Forum, 14(2), E105-E109.




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