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Evaluation of cardiac tumors with magnetic resonance imaging.

Primary cardiac neoplasms are rare, and are more commonly benign than malignant. However, metastases are by far the most common cardiac neoplasms. MRI allows evaluation of myocardial infiltration, pericardial involvement and/or extracardiac extension. MRI overcomes the usual limitations of echocardiography and assesses more accurately changes in cardiac function. Specific tumoral characterization is only possible in cases of myxoma, lipoma, fibroma and hemangioma. Suggestive features of malignancy are right side location, extracardiac extension, inhomogeneity in signal intensity of the tumor and pericardial effusion. The use of intravenous contrast material improves tumor characterization and depiction of tumor borders. MRI also allows differentiation of tumor from other nontumoral masses such as intracavitary tumors or fibromuscular elements of the posterior wall of the right atrium.

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