Pericardial Effusion

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  • Pericardial effusion is due to the accumulation of fluid within the pericardial sac. This fluid may be transudative, exudative, or sanguineous and may contain infectious organisms or malignant cells. It may be due to infection, inflammation or direct filling of the pericardial sac by blood from a defect in the myocardium (iatrogenic or traumatic injury or cardiac wall rupture) or backfilling from an ascending aortic dissection that dissects into the pericardium.

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    Pericardial effusion is due to the accumulation of fluid within the pericardial sac. This fluid may be transudative, exudative, or sanguineous and may contain infectious organisms or malignant cells. It may be due to infection, inflammation or direct filling of the pericardial sac by blood from a defect in the myocardium (iatrogenic or traumatic injury or cardiac wall rupture) or backfilling from an ascending aortic dissection that dissects into the pericardium.

    One of the most common causes of pericardial effusion is malignancy. Diagnosis can be expedited by key physical examination, ECG and sonographic findings. Unstable or crashing patients with tamponade must undergo emergent pericardiocentesis for removal of fluid and pressure to restore cardiac output.

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