Michael Jubinville, MPH
Cardiac tumor resection is the removal of a tumor from the heart. The resection will also remove some of the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
Reconstruction surgery may also be needed if a large area is affected.
Tumors can interfere with the surrounding healthy tissue. This can lead to heart failure, blockage of blood flow, problems with the heart valves, or blood clots.
Benign tumors can often be treated successfully with just surgery.
The surgery may be only part of the treatment of cancerous tumors. Treatment for these may also involve chemo- and/or radiation therapy.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of problems include:
Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
General anesthesia—you will be asleep during the procedure
A breathing tube will be placed in your throat. Next, an incision will be made on the skin of the chest. A special device will help open the ribs to expose the heart. You will be connected to a heart-lung machine. This machine will take over for the heart and pump blood to your body during surgery. The heart can then be stopped so the surgery can begin.
The tumor and some surrounding tissue will be removed. The doctor will remove as little tissue as possible without leaving tumor tissue behind. Repairs or reconstruction will be done to make sure the heart can still work properly. Once the repairs are complete, the heart lung machine will be removed and your heart will start beating again. Your heart will be observed to make sure it is working properly.
Wires will be used to help close the ribs. The wire will support the breastbone as it heals. The skin will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied over the incision.
About 3-5 hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
You will be in the hospital for several days. The exact length of stay will depend on your surgery and recovery rate.
The first part of recovery will occur in an intensive care or coronary care unit. There will be several tubes and wires attached to you so your vital signs can be monitored.
You will be given IV fluids initially. You will gradually start with liquids, then progress to your regular diet.
The hospital staff may ask you to:
To help your recovery once you get home:
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
Call for emergency medical services right away for:
Signs of a heart attack:
Signs of a stroke:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Atrial myxoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 25, 2011. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Caring for someone after heart surgery. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Resources/CaringforSomeoneAfterHeartSurgery/Caring-for-Someone-After-Heart-Surgery_UCM_301857_Article.jsp#.VvQq8E2FMdU. Updated December 28, 2011. Accessed February 11, 2013. Explore heart surgery.
Explore heart surgery. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hs. Updated March 23, 2012. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Paraskevaidis IA, Michalakeas CA, Papadopoulos CH, Anastasiou-Nana M. Cardiac tumors. ISRN Oncol. [Epub 2011 May 26].
Reardon MJ, Walkes JC, Benjamin R. Therapy insight: malignant primary cardiac tumors. Nat Clin Pract Cardiovasc Med. 2006;3(10):548-553.
Warning signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/911-Warnings-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_305346_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed February 11, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Donald Buck, MD
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