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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What are Pericardiocentesis?

The pericardial sac surrounds the heart. It normally contains a small amount of fluid. Pericardiocentesis is the withdrawal of fluid from this sac with a needle.

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Pericardiocentesis may be used as a treatment. If too much fluid builds up in the sac, this can put extra pressure on the heart. This is known as cardiac tamponade . It is a life-threatening condition. Withdrawing some of the fluid will help to relieve the pressure on the heart.

Pericardiocentesis may also be used to diagnose the cause of fluid build up. Fluid build up is known as pericardial effusion. The build up can be caused by an infection, cancer, trauma, autoimmune disorders, or drug use . It may also indicate the presence of rheumatoid arthritis , heart attack , or kidney failure .

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a pericardiocentesis, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Needle damage to an organ in the chest, like the lung or heart
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Disruption of the heart’s normal rhythm

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Obesity
  • History of smoking
  • History of excess alcohol consumption
  • Use of blood thinners or blood clotting problems
  • Shock

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the insertion site
  • Pain that you cannot control with...