JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pericardial effusion and pericardiocentesis: role of echocardiography

Hae-Ok Jung
Korean Circulation Journal 2012, 42 (11): 725-34
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Pericardial effusion can develop from any pericardial disease, including pericarditis and several systemic disorders, such as malignancies, pulmonary tuberculosis, chronic renal failure, thyroid diseases, and autoimmune diseases. The causes of large pericardial effusion requiring invasive pericardiocentesis may vary according to the time, country, and hospital. Transthoracic echocardiography is the most important tool for diagnosis, grading, the pericardiocentesis procedure, and follow up of pericardial effusion. Cardiac tamponade is a kind of cardiogenic shock and medical emergency. Clinicians should understand the tamponade physiology, especially because it can develop without large pericardial effusion. In addition, clinicians should correlate the echocardiographic findings of tamponade, such as right ventricular collapse, right atrial collapse, and respiratory variation of mitral and tricuspid flow, with clinical signs of clinical tamponade, such as hypotension or pulsus paradoxus. Percutaneous pericardiocentesis has been the most useful procedure in many cases of large pericardial effusion, cardiac tamponade, or pericardial effusion of unknown etiology. The procedure should be performed with the guidance of echocardiography.

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