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Pediatric Cardiac Tumors Treatment & Management

  • Author: Edwin Rodriguez-Cruz, MD; Chief Editor: P Syamasundar Rao, MD  more...
Updated: Jan 04, 2016

Medical Care

Most childhood cardiac tumors are benign, with no treatment necessary unless the tumor severely obstructs blood flow or causes intractable arrhythmias. Most only require close follow-up care.[10]

New data have addressed the use of serum creatine kinase-myocardial band (CK-MB) fraction levels in evaluating ventricular function. Greater ventricular dysfunction correlated with higher CK-MB levels.

Nonetheless, examine the patient extensively and expeditiously because finding a tumor is a stressful situation for both patient and family. By reaching a prompt and precise diagnosis, the physician can proceed with the best treatment approach.

The mode of treatment varies and cannot be easily simplified because the kind of tumor (benign vs malignant, infiltrative vs localized) dictates therapy. Location and extent of the tumor, as well as symptoms, are clinical variables that direct treatment. Observation is sufficient when the mass is small and does not interfere with vascular hemodynamics. However, the clinician must be aggressive when the tumor is causing hemodynamic problems. In occasions, electrical problems may also arise due to the location requiring resection and/or implantation of a pacemaker if atrioventricular block occurs.


Consult a cardiologist, thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, pathologist, radiologist, and hematologist/oncologist.


Transfer to a facility with the necessary specialties and consultants.

Diet and activity

No dietary restrictions are needed. Occasionally, certain restrictions such as low-sodium diet for congestive heart failure (CHF) are required.

Advise no restrictions unless the patient's clinical condition merits otherwise.


Surgical Care

Many advocate excision of the mass as soon as it is found; however, most childhood tumors are benign and do not require resection. Nevertheless, if a tumor is causing severe obstruction or intractable arrhythmias and has been rendered resectable, perform surgery as soon as possible.[11]

Excision and biopsy

If excision is required, perform it as extensively and completely as possible. Certain tumors recur even after complete excision. An extensive resection carries its own risks since, occasionally, removal of papillary muscles, valves, chordae tendineae, and conduction tissue are necessary.

Cardiac transplantation

Heart transplantation is an option for unresectable benign masses causing hemodynamic compromise. Transplantations have been performed with variable results for primary malignant cardiac tumors in children and adults without evidence of metastases.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Edwin Rodriguez-Cruz, MD Director, Section of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, San Jorge Children’s Hospital, Puerto Rico; Private Practice in Interventional Pediatric Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Centro Pedíatrico y Cardiovascular

Edwin Rodriguez-Cruz, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Society of Echocardiography, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society of Pediatric Echocardiography, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association, Puerto Rico Medical Association

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: St Jude's Medical Co.<br/>Received grant/research funds from NOVARTIS for investigator; Received consulting fee from St. Jude Medical Corp. for speaking and teaching.


Robert D Ross, MD Director of Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Program, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Children's Hospital of Michigan; Professor of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Robert D Ross, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, Society of Pediatric Echocardiography

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Ameeta Martin, MD Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Nebraska College of Medicine

Ameeta Martin, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Cardiology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

P Syamasundar Rao, MD Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Emeritus Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital

P Syamasundar Rao, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Jeffrey Allen Towbin, MD, MSc FAAP, FACC, FAHA, Professor, Departments of Pediatrics (Cardiology), Cardiovascular Sciences, and Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine; Chief of Pediatric Cardiology, Foundation Chair in Pediatric Cardiac Research, Texas Children's Hospital

Jeffrey Allen Towbin, MD, MSc is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Cardiology, American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Society of Human Genetics, New York Academy of Sciences, Society for Pediatric Research, Texas Medical Association, Texas Pediatric Society, Cardiac Electrophysiology Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Rosa M Cintrón-Maldonado, MD Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, San Juan Bautista Medical Center

Rosa M Cintrón-Maldonado, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Echocardiographic parasternal long-axis view showing a large mass within the left ventricular cavity invading or connected to the anterior mitral valve leaflet. AO=Aorta, RV=Right ventricle, LA=Left atrium, Arrow=Left ventricular mass.
Echocardiographic subcostal view of a patient with a large mass within the left ventricular cavity invading or connected to the anterior mitral valve leaflet. Mass within the left ventricle fills most of the ventricular cavity. LA=Left atrium, RA=Right atrium, RV=Right ventricle, Arrow=Left ventricular mass.
Echocardiographic parasternal long-axis view demonstrating a rounded mass in the area of the right ventricular outflow tract. Mass was not causing any outflow obstruction. RV=Right ventricle, LV= Left ventricle, AO=Aorta, Arrow=Right ventricular mass.
Echocardiographic apical 5 chamber view of a 1 month old patient with several ventricular tumors filling the ventricular cavities in both sides. The patient was having seizures and diagnosed to have tuberous sclerosis. The tumor associated with this disease is rhabdomyoma (see text). RA= Right Atrium; Ao= Aorta; LA= Left Atrium; RV= Right Atrium; LV= Left Ventricle
Follow-up echocardiographic 4 chamber view from the same patient as shown in the image above. This echocardiogram was done 8 months after the previous view. Note that the tumors have changed in size and some of them have regressed totally, especially in the right ventricle. The arrows show the remaining areas of tumors seen in both ventricles.
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