Cardiac tamponade in the "new device" era: evaluation of 6999 consecutive percutaneous coronary interventions

Am Heart J. 2000 Aug;140(2):279-83. doi: 10.1067/mhj.2000.107996.


Background: The incidence of cardiac perforation and pericardial tamponade appears to be increasing in the era of new coronary interventional devices compared with coronary balloon angioplasty.

Methods and results: We reviewed 6999 consecutive percutaneous coronary interventions performed during 1994 to 1996 in a single urban university hospital catheterization laboratory. Data had been collected prospectively as part of an ongoing quality assurance program. Fifteen patients had cardiac tamponade within 36 hours of the procedure. Only 6 of these occurred during the interventional procedure; the others occurred 2 to 36 hours later. The median patient age was 72 years. Nine (60%) patients were female. Three patients received abciximab. Five perforations were at the target coronary artery site, 3 were caused by a guide wire tip in the distal part of the target artery, and 7 represented right ventricular perforations caused by a temporary pacemaker wire. Five of the 7 right ventricular perforations occurred during rotational atherectomy procedures. Diagnosis was aided by immediate echocardiography. Treatment was medical, including pericardiocentesis, in 6 cases. The other 9 patients required surgical drainage and repair. All patients survived the index hospitalization. At 18-month follow-up, 1 patient had died, and all others were without apparent sequelae.

Conclusions: Tamponade after percutaneous coronary intervention is not rare in the "new device" era (overall incidence 0.2%); tamponade after percutaneous coronary intervention is often delayed and may occur outside the catheterization suite; patients are more likely to be female and elderly; immediate echocardiography is an essential aid to diagnosis and prompt treatment; and the use of temporary right ventricular pacing catheters must be reexamined.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary / instrumentation*
  • Atherectomy, Coronary / instrumentation*
  • Cardiac Tamponade / etiology*
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Equipment Safety
  • Female
  • Heart Injuries / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors