Carcinoid heart disease: Clinical and echocardiographic spectrum in 74 patients

Patricia A. Pellikka, A. Jamil Tajik, Bijoy K. Khandheria, James B. Seward, John A. Callahan, Henry C. Pitot, Larry K. Kvols

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Abstract

Background. The carcinoid syndrome is a rare cause of acquired valvular heart disease. Although the typical echocardiographic features of carcinoid heart disease are well recognized, this large series provides new information about unusual manifestations of the disease as well as the role of Doppler echocardiography. Methods and Results. Between 1980 and 1989, 132 patients with carcinoid syndrome underwent echocardiographic study. The echocardiographic, Doppler, and clinical features of the 74 patients (56%) with echocardiographic evidence of carcinoid heart disease are described. Among these patients, 97% had shortened, thickened tricuspid leaflets. Tricuspid regurgitation was present in all 69 patients with carcinoid heart disease who underwent Doppler examination, and it was of moderate or severe degree in 62 patients (90%). Severe tricuspid regurgitation was characterized by a dagger-shaped Doppler spectral profile with an early peak pressure and rapid decline. The pressure half-time was prolonged (mean, 116 msec), which is consistent with associated tricuspid stenosis. The pulmonary valve appeared thickened, retracted, and immobile in 36 patients (49%) and was diminutive to the extent of not being visualized in an additional 29 patients (39%). Among the 47 patients who underwent Doppler evaluation of the pulmonary valve, regurgitation was present in 81%, and stenosis was present in 53%. Left-sided valvular involvement was present in five patients (7%), four of whom had patent foramen ovale or carcinoid tumor involving the lung. Previously undescribed myocardial metastases were present in three patients (4%) and were confirmed by biopsy in each case. Small pericardial effusions were present in 10 patients (14%). Patients with and without echocardiographic evidence of carcinoid heart disease did not differ with regard to sex, age, location of the primary tumor, duration of diagnosis, or duration of symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. However, the mean pretreatment level of urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid was higher in patients with carcinoid heart disease than in patients without carcinoid heart disease (270 versus 131 mg/24 hrs, p<0.001). The symptom of dyspnea was more prevalent among patients with carcinoid heart disease than in patients without the disease (54% versus 27%,p>=0.003): as expected, heart murmurs were also noted more frequently in patients with disease (92% versus 43%, p<0.0001). Treatment regimens and response to therapy were similar in the two groups. Survival of patients with echocardiographic evidence of carcinoid heart disease was reduced compared with those without cardiac involvement (p=0.0003). ECG and chest roentgenographic findings in patients with carcinoid heart disease were nonspecific. Conclusions. The broad spectrum of carcinoid heart disease is detailed in this large series. This includes not only right-sided valvular lesions but also left-sided involvement, pericardial effusion, and myocardial metastases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1188-1196
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation
Volume87
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1993

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Keywords

  • Carcinoid syndrome
  • Myocardial metastasis
  • Patent foramen ovale
  • Pulmonary stenosis
  • Regurgitation
  • Tricuspid stenosis
  • Valvular heart disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this

Pellikka, P. A., Tajik, A. J., Khandheria, B. K., Seward, J. B., Callahan, J. A., Pitot, H. C., & Kvols, L. K. (1993). Carcinoid heart disease: Clinical and echocardiographic spectrum in 74 patients. Circulation, 87(4), 1188-1196.