Pericardial effusion is a buildup of too much fluid around the heart. The heart is surrounded by a thin, double-layered sac (pericardium) that normally has a small amount of fluid. When too much fluid builds up in the sac, it can put pressure on the heart and cause problems.
When fluid builds up in the pericardial sac and pressure on the heart increases, it becomes harder for the heart to pump blood. The fluid can prevent the heart from pumping enough blood (cardiac tamponade). This can be life-threatening.
What are the causes?
Often, the cause of pericardial effusion is not known (idiopathic effusion). In some cases, the condition may be caused by:
Infections from a virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasite.
Damage to the pericardium…show more content… Decreased breathing sounds and a rubbing sound (friction rub) when listening to your lungs.
Your health care provider may do several tests to confirm a pericardial effusion diagnosis and to find out what is causing it. They may include:
Echocardiogram to create ultrasound images of your heart.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) to examine the electrical functions of your heart.
Pericardiocentesis. This is a procedure that is used to remove fluid from the sac that surrounds the heart (pericardium) by placing a needle into the pericardium.
How is this treated?
Treatment for this condition depends on the cause of your condition and how severe your symptoms are. Treatment may include:
Medicines, such as:
NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatory medicines, such as steroids.
Hospital treatment. This may be necessary for cardiac tamponade. Treatment in the hospital may include:
Surgery. This may be needed in severe cases. Surgery may include:
Pericardiocentesis to ease pressure on your heart.
Open heart surgery.
A procedure to make a permanent opening in the pericardium (pericardial