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Rescue echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis for cardiac perforation complicating catheter-based procedures. The Mayo Clinic experience

T S Tsang, W K Freeman, M E Barnes, G S Reeder, D L Packer, J B Seward
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 1998, 32 (5): 1345-50

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of rescue echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis as a primary strategy for the management of acute cardiac perforation and tamponade complicating catheter-based procedures.

BACKGROUND: In this era of interventional catheterization, acute tamponade from cardiac perforation as a complication is encountered more frequently. The safety and efficacy of echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis in this life-threatening situation and outcomes of patients managed by this technique are unknown.

METHODS: Of the 960 consecutive echocardiographically guided pericardiocenteses performed at the Mayo Clinic (1979 to 1997), 92 (9.6%) were undertaken in 88 patients with acute tamponade that developed in association with a diagnostic or interventional catheter-based procedure. Most of the patients were hemodynamically unstable at the time of pericardiocentesis, with clinically overt tamponade in 40% and frank hemodynamic collapse (systolic blood pressure <60 mm Hg) in 57%. Clinical end points of interest were the success and complication rates of rescue pericardiocentesis and patient outcomes, including the need for other interventions, clinical and echocardiographic follow-up findings and survival.

RESULTS: Rescue pericardiocentesis was successful in relieving tamponade in 91 cases (99%) and was the only and definitive therapy in 82% of the cases. Major complications (3%) included pneumothorax (n=1), right ventricular laceration (n=1) and intercostal vessel injury with right ventricular laceration (n=1); all were treated successfully. Minor complications (2%) included a small pneumothorax and an instance of transient nonsustained ventricular tachycardia; all were resolved spontaneously. Further surgical intervention was performed in 16 patients (18%). No deaths resulted from the rescue pericardiocentesis procedure itself. Early death (<30 days) in this series was due to injuries from cardiac catheter-based procedures (n=3), perioperative complications (n=2) and underlying cardiac diseases (n=2). Clinical or echocardiographic follow-up for a minimum of 3 months or until death (if <3 months) for recurrent effusion or development of pericardial constriction was achieved in 87 (99%) of the patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Echocardiographically guided pericardiocentesis was safe and effective for rescuing patients from tamponade and reversing hemodynamic instability complicating invasive cardiac catheter-based procedures. For most patients, this was the definitive and only therapy necessary.


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