Cardiac lipoma

Last revised by Tom Foster on 27 Jul 2022

Cardiac lipomas are uncommon benign primary cardiac neoplasms although they are considered the commonest non-myxomatous benign primary cardiac tumor 8.

They have no defined age or sex distribution.

They are soft and may grow to a large size without causing symptoms and are usually incidentally discovered. In the pericardial space, they may compress the ventricles or cause shortness of breath by displacing the lungs without affecting left ventricular function.

Intracardiac lipomas are benign primary tumors which comprise of well defined mature fat. 

Cardiac lipomas have been associated with a variety of arrhythmias.

They can arise in a variety of locations and some may arise in relation to papillary muscles 8.

In general, cardiac lipomas usually appear as hyperechoic masses on echocardiography due to their fat content. However, the appearance of lipomas on echocardiography may also vary depending on their location. Lipomas in the pericardial space may appear as hypoechoic lesions, whereas those located within the cardiac chambers are homogeneous and hyperechoic.

On CT, cardiac lipomas appear as homogeneous, low-attenuation masses either in a cardiac chamber or in the pericardial.

May be superior to CT in identifying the relationship of the lipoma to coronary arteries 4.

On MR imaging, lipomas have homogeneous increased signal intensity on T1-weighted images that decreases with fat-saturated sequences. Cardiac lipomas do not enhance with the administration of contrast material.

In most cases, cardiac lipomas require no treatment or surgical intervention unless they cause arrhythmias, embolize, compress the coronary arteries, or obstruct flow within the heart. Cardiac lipomas are usually easily resected.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Case 1: CT
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: MRI
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.