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Pericardial Effusion

A pericardial effusion is a condition in which an abnormal amount of fluid is accumulated between the heart and the pericardium. Pericardial effusion is often related to inflammation of the pericardium that's caused by disease or injury, but it can also occur without inflammation. It can also be caused by the accumulation of blood after a surgical procedure or injury.

Pericardial effusion symptoms include

  • Shortness of breath
  • Shortness of breath when lying down
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Low-grade fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • A feeling of anxiety

Causes for pericardial effusion are:

  • Viral, bacterial, fungal infections
  • Inflammation of the pericardium due to causes not known is called idiopathic pericarditis.
  • Inflammation of the pericardium due to heart surgery or a heart attack
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Cancer of the pericardium or heart

Treatments used to treat pericardial effusion are

  • It can be treated by using anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • Pericardiocentesis: In this procedure, a sterile needle or a catheter is used to remove and drain excess fluid from the pericardial cavity.
  • Open-heart surgery: If there's bleeding into the pericardium due to recent heart surgery then an open heart surgery is advised. This procedure drains the pericardium and repairs any related damage. In certain cases a "passage" is created, that allows to drain out excess fluid into the abdominal cavity where the fluid is absorbed.
  • Intrapericardial sclerosis: A solution is injected into the space between the two layers of the pericardium which seals the layers together.
  • Pericardiectomy: The surgical removal of all or a portion of the pericardium is known by this name.