JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Computed tomography-guided pericardiocentesis - A single-center experience.

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES: Pericardial effusion is a common complication in clinical situations such as cardiothoracic surgery and cancer, in which pericardiocentesis may be essential. Pericardiocentesis can be guided by different imaging techniques, most commonly echocardiography. Computed tomography (CT) has significant advantages but there is still little evidence supporting its use in this context. In this work we describe our experience with CT-guided pericardiocentesis (CTP) in a single center.

METHODS: Patients referred for CTP between August 2008 and February 2014 were retrospectively analyzed. We assessed demographics, etiology of the effusion, international normalized ratio during the procedure, radiation doses, success rate and complications. Results were compared with those in the literature.

RESULTS: During this period, 51 procedures were performed, in 46 patients. Five patients underwent a repeat procedure due to recurrence of effusion. The most common etiologies were post-surgical (48%, 22 patients) and neoplasm-related (17%, eight patients). Drainage was considered completely successful in 46 cases (90%), partially successful in two (4%) and unsuccessful in three (6%). The median duration of the procedure was 65 min (interquartile range 50-80) and median effective radiation exposure was 3.3 mSv (interquartile range 2.4-5.2 mSv). There were no significant adverse events related to the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: By providing high-definition three-dimensional images, CTP enables accurate positioning of pericardiocentesis material. It was shown to be an accurate, effective and safe method, in agreement with previous findings. CTP should be considered a good option in centers with CT facilities.

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