Purpose: To evaluate the utility of transthoracic echocardiography for the early detection of subclinical cardiac metastasis in childhood malignant hepatic tumors. Patients and Methods: From April 1995 until February 2000, 12 consecutive children with malignant hepatic tumor were enrolled in this study. To determine the degree of invasion of the cardiovascular system, transthoracic echocardiography was performed for all patients at the time of initial diagnosis and also at subsequent follow-up investigations every 6 months until the patient was deemed to be disease-free, or until the patient died. Results: There were seven patients diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (six boys, one girl) and five patients diagnosed with hepatoblastoma (three boys, two girls). Most tumors were multiple (7/12) and involved both lobes of the liver (7/12). Inferior vena cava thrombi were observed in four patients. Three patients exhibited intracardiac tumor metastasis, and lung metastasis was noted in four patients. Lung metastasis was significantly more common in children with cardiovascular involvement (4/4) compared with those without (0/8). The ages of the patient, levels of alpha-fetoprotein, and types of tumor did not differ between the two groups. Conclusions: Echocardiography may be useful for the early detection of cardiovascular metastases of malignant hepatic tumors in children; this was the case for 33% of the patients in this series. The frequent occurrence of cardiovascular tumor involvement and the high degree of association between lung metastasis and cardiovascular involvement observed in this small series suggest that transthoracic echocardiography should be studied prospectively in a large series of children with hepatic tumors.
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