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Controlled pericardiocentesis in patients with cardiac tamponade complicating aortic dissection: experience of a centre without cardiothoracic surgery

Inês Cruz, Bruno Stuart, Daniel Caldeira, Gonçalo Morgado, Ana C Gomes, Ana R Almeida, Maria J Loureiro, Isabel João, Carlos Cotrim, Hélder Pereira
European Heart Journal. Acute Cardiovascular Care 2015, 4 (2): 124-8

BACKGROUND: Cardiac tamponade has been reported in 18.7% of patients with acute type A aortic dissection and its presence is associated with worse outcomes. Emergency aortic repair together with intra-operative pericardial drainage is the recommended treatment approach. However, controversy surrounds how to manage patients with haemopericardium and cardiac tamponade who cannot survive until surgery.

PURPOSE: To describe a case series of patients with critical cardiac tamponade complicating aortic dissection admitted to a hospital without cardiothoracic surgery, and in whom preoperative controlled pericardial drainage was performed.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Single centre retrospective study: during a nine-year period, 21 patients with Stanford type A aortic dissection were admitted at our centre; six of them (28.6%) presented clinical and echocardiographic signs of cardiac tamponade (four males; mean age 58±17 years). In this subgroup, controlled pericardiocentesis was safely performed with no major immediate complications and it was effective in five patients, improving haemodynamic instability and allowing transfer to the operating room.

CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative controlled pericardiocentesis can be lifesaving when managing patients with critical cardiac tamponade (pulseless electrical activity or refractory hypotension) complicating acute type A aortic dissection, namely when cardiac surgery is not immediately available.


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