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A procedure performed with a needle to remove fluid for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes from the tissue covering the heart (pericardial sac).


The heart is surrounded by a membrane covering called the pericardial sac. The sac consists of two layers, the parietal (outer) and visceral (inner) layer, and normally contains a small amount of fluid to cushion and lubricate the heart as it contracts and expands. When too much fluid gathers in the pericardial cavity, the space between the pericardium and the outer layers of the heart, a condition known as pericardial effusion occurs. Abnormal amounts of fluid may result from:

pericarditis, infection caused by inflammation of the pericardial sac trauma, such as an abnormal collection of blood due to an accident surgery or invasive heart procedures heart attack (myocardial infarction) or congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart looses its pumping capability due to a heart condition kidney (renal) failure cancer (producing malignant effusions)


Pericardiocentesis is an invasive procedure and therefore has associated risks. Complications are possible, but have become less common due to guided imaging techniques that improved the past blind approach. Possible risks include:

puncture of the myocardium, the outer muscle layer of the heart puncture of a coronary artery, a blood vessel that supplies blood to heart muscle myocardial infarction (heart attack) needle induced arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) pneumopericardium, air entry into the pericardial sac infection of the pericardial membranes (pericarditis) accidental puncture of the stomach, lung, or liver

glossary/pericardiocentesis.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/16 14:40 (external edit)