Diastolic collapse of the right ventricle with cardiac tamponade: an echocardiographic study

W F Armstrong, B F Schilt, D J Helper, J C Dillon, H Feigenbaum
Circulation 1982, 65 (7): 1491-6
The value of a newly described echocardiographic sign for the detection of cardiac tamponade was retrospectively evaluated in 91 patients. M-mode echocardiograms were reviewed in 86 patients, 36 of whom had concurrent two-dimensional echocardiographic examinations; in five patients, only two-dimensional echocardiography was performed. Cardiac tamponade was clinically present in 17 patients, 14 of whom had abnormal posterior motion of the right ventricular free wall in early diastole. Two of the 17 patients with tamponade had equivocally abnormal motion and one had normal wall motion. The patient with normal wall motion was later proved to have predominantly constrictive pericardial disease. In all cases, the abnormal wall motion reverted to normal after a definitive drainage procedure. Two-dimensional echocardiography confirmed that the abnormal right ventricular wall motion represented a true collapse of the right ventricular cavity in early diastole. Of the 69 patients without clinical cardiac tamponade, only seven had abnormal right ventricular wall motion. Detection of abnormal diastolic right ventricular free wall motion may be a sensitive indicator or a hemodynamically significant pericardial effusion. Conversely, the presence of normal motion of the right ventricular free wall appears to be a reliable indicator that the pericardial effusion is exerting little effect on overall cardiac function.

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