Pericardial effusion is a buildup of fluid in the space between the
heart and the sac around the heart (pericardium).
Pericardial effusion can be caused by pericarditis, an inflammation
of the pericardium. Pericarditis may be caused by heart attack, kidney failure,
bacterial or viral infection, or cancer treatment.
Pericarditis can also cause chest pain and, rarely, increased
pressure on the heart (cardiac tamponade).
Pericardial effusion may be drained in a procedure called
pericardiocentesis, which involves using a needle and sometimes a thin tube
called a catheter to drain the fluid. If the fluid buildup is gradual and the
heart is tolerating the increased fluid around it, treatment of the underlying
cause may be tried first.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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