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Swiss Med Wkly. 2011 Aug 26;141:w13223. doi: 10.4414/smw.2011.13223.

No association between herpes simplex virus 1 and cardiac myxoma.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, Triemli Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland.



Cardiac myxoma is the most commonly diagnosed cardiac tumour. Infection of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) has been postulated to be a factor for this pathologic entity. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the association between HSV 1 and myxoma occurrence.


Between 1965 and 2005, 70 patients (36 female, mean age: 52.6 years) underwent a resection of myxoma. Selected variables such as hospital mortality and morbidity were studied. A follow-up (FU; mean FU time: 138 ± 83 months) was obtained (76% complete). Immunohistological studies with monoclonal antibodies against HSV type 1 were performed on tumour biopsies of 40 patients.


The mean age was 53 ± 16 years (range 23 to 84 years, 51% female). Of the investigated population, 31 (44%) were in New York Heart Association (NYHA) class III-IV. Mitral valve stenosis was identified in 14 patients (20%), and in 25 (36%) patients mitral valve was insufficient. During hospitalisation 3 patients suffered from a transient neurological disorder, and in addition to myxoma resection 18 (25.7%) patients had to undergo an additional intervention. The overall survival rate was 91% at 40 years. There was no early postoperative mortality in follow-up, although 4 patients died and 2 patients had been re-operated on for recurrent myxomas after 2 and 9 years. Immunohistology revealed no positive signals for HSV-1 antigens among the 40 analysed cases.


Complete surgical resection, septum included, was the treatment of choice and mandatory to prevent relapse. Peri-operative morbidity and mortality over 40 years remained low, and no association between HSV infection and occurrence of cardiac myxoma was found.

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