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Pericarditis - Clinical presentation and characteristics of a pediatric population.

INTRODUCTION: Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium. It may be infectious or secondary to a systemic disease. The aim of this study was to analyze the clinical findings, course, treatment and follow-up of children diagnosed with pericarditis at our center.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of all children admitted to our pediatric cardiology unit with pericarditis between 2003 and 2015. Patient characteristics were summarized using frequencies and percentages for categorical variables and medians with percentiles for continuous variables.

RESULTS: Fifty patients were analyzed (40 male, 10 female) with a median age of 14 years. The most common diagnosis was acute pericarditis (80%). Thirty-five patients (70%) presented with chest pain and 26% reported fever. Cardiomegaly was identified on chest X-ray in 11 patients (22%), 30 patients (60%) had an abnormal ECG and 44 patients (80%) had alterations on the transthoracic echocardiogram. In 17 cases (34%) there was myocardial involvement. Forty-eight percent of patients presented with infectious pericarditis and the pathologic agent was identified in half of them. Postpericardiotomy syndrome was diagnosed in five cases. The first-line therapy was aspirin in 50% of cases. Pericardiocentesis was performed in 12 patients. The median length of stay was nine days. There was symptom recurrence in seven children.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, acute infectious pericarditis was the most common presentation and about one third of patients also had myocarditis. The symptom recurrence rate was not negligible and is probably related to the type of therapy employed.

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