Cardiac Tumor Resection and Reconstruction
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Cardiac tumor resection is the removal of a tumor from the heart. Some healthy tissue around the tumor is also removed.
Reconstruction surgery may also be needed if a large area is affected.
Reasons for Procedure
This is done to treat tumors in the heart. Tumors can cause blockage of blood flow, problems with heart valves, or blood clots. They can also lead to heart failure.
Noncancerous tumors are often treated with just surgery. Cancerous tumors may need chemo-and/or radiation in addition to surgery.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
An incision will be made in the skin of the chest. A special device will open the ribs to expose the heart. A heart-lung machine will take over for the heart. It will pump blood through the body during surgery. The heart can then be stopped so surgery can begin.
The tumor and some tissue will be removed. Repairs or reconstruction will be done.. Once the repairs are complete, the heart-lung machine will be removed. The heart will start beating again. The heart will be observed to make sure it is working well.
Wires will be used to close the ribs. The wire will support the breastbone as it heals. The incision will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be placed over the site.
How Long Will It Take?
About 3 to 5 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care help.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is several days. You may need to stay longer if you have problems.
At the Hospital
After the procedure, the staff may give medicines to control pain or nausea.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection such as:
It will take about 4 to 6 weeks to recover. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You will need to delay your return to work for about 1 month or more.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
Call for medical help right away for:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Atrial myxoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/atrial-myxoma. Accessed Januray 25, 2021.
Cardiac procedures and surgeries. American Heart Association website. Available at:https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/treatment-of-a-heart-attack/cardiac-procedures-and-surgeries Accessed January 25, 2021.
Heart surgery. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-surgery. Accessed January 25, 2021.
Rocha RV, Butany J, et al. Adipose tumors of the heart. J Card Surg. 2018;33(8):432-437.
Warning signs of heart attack, stroke & cardiac arrest. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Accessed Januray 25, 2021.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/25/2021