MR Imaging of Cardiac Masses

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Cardiac masses present a diagnostic challenge given their relative rarity and the overall difficulty imaging the heart. With the increasing frequency and quality of imaging in general, however, the incidental discovery of cardiac masses is increasing. Cardiac masses seldom produce symptoms, and they are more commonly found during imaging for noncardiac indications. While echocardiography is useful in the initial evaluation of a suspected mass, cardiac magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the best imaging modality to characterize cardiac tumors due to its superior tissue characterization and its higher contrast resolution. Due to the risk of embolization and arrhythmia, most benign cardiac tumors are removed, and imaging plays an important role in treatment planning. While primary resection remains the mainstay of treatment, new treatment strategies may prolong survival and slow the growth of metastases. A fundamental knowledge of common cardiac masses is vital to all radiologists, and here, we discuss the most pertinent imaging approach to cardiac masses emphasizing MR imaging.

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