This article reviews CT and MRI features of malignant cardiac and pericardial tumors, most of which originate from the lung, breast, melanoma, leukemia, or lymphoma through lymphatic, hematogenous, transvenous, and direct pathways. Although echocardiography establishes the diagnosis in most cases, CT and MRI provide additional physical, spatial, and functional information that further aids the evaluation of metastases. For instance, CT provides superior resolution for detecting calcification or fat, while MRI with its direct multiplanar ability more completely characterizes the heart, pericardium, mediastinum, and lungs. MRI also helps elucidate the pathophysiological effects of these tumors on cardiac function through gated cine-loop sequences. Beyond tumor characterization, both modalities can help confirm diagnosis through the addition of contrast, which helps distinguish tumor from myocardium, thrombus, and blood flow artifact. Ultimately, MRI best facilitates surgical planning and posttreatment follow-up in large part because of its unparalleled ability to locate and delimit these tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging