Tumors of the cardiac valves: imaging findings in magnetic resonance imaging, electron beam computed tomography, and echocardiography
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We describe the findings from various cross-sectional imaging modalities in patients with cardiac valve adherent masses. The techniques are discussed, and imaging findings are compared with the results of cardiac surgery. All three patients had neurological symptoms and/or cardiac murmurs. Transthoracic and/or transesophageal echocardiography revealed the cardiac mass in all three. For differentiation of thrombus and cardiac neoplasm magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was also performed in all three patients and electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) in two. Fast segmented cine gradient-echo MRI techniques provided mass depiction in all patients, while T1-weighted spin-echo imaging failed in mass detection in one patient. None of the patients showed evidence of valve regurgitation or stenosis in flow sensitive cine MRI. EBCT excluded mass calcifications in both patients and reliably demonstrated the valve attached lesions. Although echocardiography is the modality of choice in evaluating cardiac masses and especially valve attached masses, MRI and EBCT provide additional information about tissue characteristics and allows an excellent overview of the cardiac and paracardiac morphology. Fast segmented cine gradient-echo MRI is especially able to depict even small tumors attached to rapidly moving cardiac valves, and valve competence can be easily assessed within the same examination.
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