Nov 13, · Pericardial effusion is the medical term for fluid buildup in the space around the heart. More specifically, the fluid appears between the membrane sac lining that surrounds the heart, the Author: Danielle Dresden. A. The heart is surrounded by a thin, two-layer sac called the pericardium. It protects the heart, limits its motion, and prevents it from expanding too much when blood volume increases. Normally, there isn't any fluid between the pericardium and the heart muscle.
My uncle was told he had fluid around his heart. What does that mean, and how is it treated? The heart is surrounded by a thin, two-layer sac called the pericardium. It protects the heart, limits its motion, and prevents it from expanding too much when blood volume increases. Normally, there isn't any fluid between the pericardium and the heart muscle. But there are many reasons fluid can accumulate in this space, including an infection, a heart attack, surgery, cancer, kidney failure, and a host of other conditions.
The problem, which doctors call a what is the fluid around the heart called effusion, sometimes has no symptoms. But it can be painful or hinder the heart's function. Treating pericardial effusion depends on the cause, how much fluid is present, and how quickly it is enlarging. Sometimes, addressing the underlying disorder reduces or eliminates the excess fluid. Doctors often prescribe nonsteroidal what are the advantages of using spreadsheets drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen to calm inflammation and ease pain and other symptoms.
However, rapid or excessive fluid buildup may require more drastic measures. Otherwise, the pressure inside the pericardium could squeeze the heart. By preventing the chambers of the heart from expanding fully, this pressure could limit the heart's output of blood.
Drawing fluid out of the pericardium with a needle can immediately relieve the pressure. In some cases, especially if the fluid reaccumulates rapidly, people need surgery to drain the fluid or to cut away scar tissue.
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Aug 25, · A pericardial effusion is excess fluid between the heart and the sac surrounding the heart, known as the pericardium. Most are not harmful, but they Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins.
Pericardial effusion, sometimes referred to as "fluid around the heart," is the abnormal build-up of excess fluid that develops between the pericardium, the lining of the heart, and the heart itself. Since pericardial effusions are a result of many different diseases or conditions, anyone who develops one of the many conditions that can produce an effusion may be affected.
Pericardial effusions can be acute comes on quickly or chronic lasting more than 3 months. The seriousness of the condition depends on the primary cause, size and rate of growth of the effusion — and whether it can be treated effectively.
Causes that can be treated or controlled, such as an infection due to a virus or heart failure, allows the patient to be effectively treated and remain free of pericardial effusions. Pericardial effusion caused by other conditions, such as cancer, is very serious and should be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Additionally, rapid fluid accumulation in the pericardium can cause cardiac tamponade, a severe compression of the heart that impairs its ability to function. Cardiac tamponade resulting from pericardial effusion can be life-threatening. Many patients with a small pericardial effusion have no symptoms.
The condition is often discovered on a chest x-ray, CT scan or echocardiogram that was performed for another reason. Initially, the pericardium may stretch to accommodate excess fluid build-up.
Therefore, signs and symptoms may not occur until a large amount of fluid has collected over time. If symptoms do occur, they may result from compression of surrounding structures, such as the lung, stomach or phrenic nerve a nerve that connects to the diaphragm. Symptoms also may occur due to diastolic heart failure heart failure that occurs because the heart is unable to relax normally between each contraction due to the added compression.
Symptoms of pericardial effusion include:. Cardiac tamponade is a severe compression of the heart that impairs its ability to function. Cardiac tamponade resulting from pericardial effusion can be life-threatening and is a medical emergency, requiring urgent drainage of the fluid.
Pericardial effusion, and the possible inflammation of the pericardium resulting from it called pericarditis , can have many possible causes, including:. Treatment of pericardial effusion is based on the underlying condition that is causing it and if the effusion is leading to severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
Medical history, examination of the patient, diagnositc testing, along with testing of the pericardial fluid helps the doctor determine the cause and treatment. Depending on the cause, the excess fluid may be either rich in protein exudate or watery transudate. These two categories help physicians determine the best way to treat the cause of a pericardial effusion. The goal of medical management for pericardial effusions is to treat the underlying cause. Medical therapies for pericardial effusions include:.
Regardless if the pericardial effusion is transudative consisting of watery fluid or exudative made up of protein-rich fluid , a large pericardial effusion causing respiratory symptoms or cardiac tamponade should be drained to remove the excess fluid, prevent its re-accumulation, or treat the underlying cause of the fluid buildup.
Pericardial effusions that cannot be managed through medical management or drainage of excess fluid may require surgical treatment. Pericardial Window Subxyphoid Pericardiostomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which an opening is made in the pericardium to drain fluid that has accumulated around the heart. A pericardial window can be completed through a small incision below the end of the breastbone sternum or through a small incision between the ribs on the left side of the chest.
Percutaneous Balloon Pericardiotomy is a nonsurgical procedure performed using x-ray guidance to view the pericardium and place a balloon dilating catheter. This procedure is not common. Your health care team will discuss the possible risks and benefits of each treatment option with you.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Pericardial Effusion. Appointments Who is affected by pericardial effusions?
Is pericardial effusion serious? Symptoms and Causes What are the symptoms of pericardial effusion? Symptoms of pericardial effusion include: Chest pressure or pain Shortness of breath Nausea Abdominal fullness Difficulty in swallowing Symptoms that pericardial effusion is causing cardiac tamponade include: Blue tinge to the lips and skin Shock Change in mental status Cardiac tamponade is a severe compression of the heart that impairs its ability to function.
What causes pericardial effusion? Pericardial effusion, and the possible inflammation of the pericardium resulting from it called pericarditis , can have many possible causes, including: Infection such as viral, bacterial or tuberculous Inflammatory disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis Cancer that has spread metastasized to the pericardium Kidney failure with excessive blood levels of nitrogen Heart surgery.
Diagnosis and Tests How is pericardial effusion diagnosed? The tests most commonly used to diagnose and evaluate pericardial effusion include: Chest x-ray Computed tomography CT scan of the chest MRI of the heart Echocardiogram Pericardiocentesis: a procedure that uses a needle to remove fluid from the pericardium; the fluid is then examined to determine the cause of the effusion.
It is often guided by echocardiography. Management and Treatment How is pericardial effusion treated? Medical management The goal of medical management for pericardial effusions is to treat the underlying cause. Medical therapies for pericardial effusions include: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications NSAIDs can be used to treat pericardial effusions caused by inflammation. These drugs include ibuprofen or aspirin. Diuretics and other heart failure medications can be used to treat pericardial effusions caused by heart failure.
Antibiotics are used to treat pericardial effusions caused by an infection. If a pericardial effusion is related to the presence of cancer, treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or medication infused within the chest. Procedures to treat pericardial effusion Regardless if the pericardial effusion is transudative consisting of watery fluid or exudative made up of protein-rich fluid , a large pericardial effusion causing respiratory symptoms or cardiac tamponade should be drained to remove the excess fluid, prevent its re-accumulation, or treat the underlying cause of the fluid buildup.
Large pericardial effusions may be drained through: Ultrasound-guided pericardiocentesis , a safe and effective procedure to remove excess fluid from the pericardium. This is most common followed by fluoroscopy. Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery VATS , also known as thoracoscopy is a minimally-invasive technique performed under general anesthesia. VATS allows for visual evaluation of the pericardium and is used when the diagnosis of pericardial effusion has remained undiagnosed despite previous, less-invasive tests.
It is also used to drain the excess fluid and prevent its reaccumulation. Show More.