Pericardial effusion interventions

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Roukoz A. Karam, M.D.[2]


The mainstay of treatment for pericardial effusion is pericardial fluid drainage. Indications for pericardiocentesis or a pericardial window include cardiac tamponade, for diagnostic purposes if there is suspected purulent, tuberculosis, or neoplastic pericarditis, and the presence of a large, persistent, symptomatic pericardial effusion.


The mainstay of treatment for pericardial effusion is pericardiocentesis. Pericardiocentesis is usually reserved for patients with either:

  • a pericardial effusion and evidence of hemodynamic compromise (ie, cardiac tamponade)
    • Urgent drainage of the pericardial effusion for therapeutic (and potentially diagnostic) purposes.
  • a pericardial effusion who are hemodynamically stable with no evidence of cardiac tamponade
    • do not require immediate drainage of the effusion for therapeutic purposes
    • sampling of the effusion may be indicated for diagnostic purposes in patients without a clear etiology for the effusion

Indications for pericardiocentesis or a pericardial window include the following:[1]


  1. Maisch B, Seferovic PM, Ristic AD, Erbel R, Rienmuller R, Adler Y, Tomkowski WZ, Thiene G, Yacoub MH (2004). "Guidelines on the diagnosis and management of pericardial diseases executive summary; The Task force on the diagnosis and management of pericardial diseases of the European Society of Cardiology". Eur Heart J. 25 (7): 587–10. doi:10.1016/j.ehj.2004.02.002. PMID 15120056.