Objectives: To evaluate consecutive therapeutic echocardiographically (echo)-guided pericardiocenteses performed at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, from 1979 to 2000 and to determine whether patient profiles, practice patterns, and outcomes have changed over time.
Patients and methods: Consecutive echo-guided pericardiocenteses performed between February 1, 1979, and January 31, 2000, for treatment of clinically significant pericardial effusions were identified in the Mayo Clinic Echocardiographic-guided Pericardiocentesis Registry. The medical records of these patients were examined, and a follow-up survey was conducted. Clinical profiles, echocardiographic findings, procedural details, and outcomes were determined for 3 periods: February 1, 1979, through January 31, 1986; February 1, 1986, through January 31, 1993; and February 1, 1993, through January 31, 2000.
Results: During the 21-year study period, 1127 therapeutic echo-guided pericardiocenteses were performed in 977 patients. The mean +/- SD age at pericardiocentesis increased from 49+/-14 years in period 1 to 57+/-14 years in period 3. In recent years, cardiothoracic surgery replaced malignancy as the leading cause of an effusion requiring pericardiocentesis and together with malignancy and perforation from catheter-based procedures accounted for nearly 70% of all pericardiocenteses performed. The procedural success rate was 97% overall, with a total complication rate of 4.7% (major, 1.2%; minor, 3.5%). These rates did not change significantly over time. The use of a pericardial catheter for extended drainage increased from 23% in period 1 to 75% in period 3 (P<.001), whereas rates of effusion recurrence and pericardial surgery decreased significantly (P<.001).
Conclusions: The profile of patients presenting with clinically significant pericardial effusion has changed over time. Increasing numbers of older patients and those who have undergone cardiothoracic surgery or catheter-based procedures develop effusions that can be rapidly, safely, and effectively managed with echo-guided pericardiocentesis. Extended drainage with use of a pericardial catheter has become standard practice, and concomitantly, recurrence rates and need for surgical management have decreased considerably.