Pericardiocentesis guided by 2-D echocardiography: the method of choice for treatment of pericardial effusion

J Intern Med. 2003 Apr;253(4):411-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2796.2003.01103.x.


Background: Percutaneous pericardiocentesis guided by 2-D echocardiography has been used at Linköping Heart Centre since 1983.

Aim: To evaluate our experience of this method including a follow-up and also to determine the aetiology of pericardial effusion.

Methods: A retrospective study including 120 of 252 consecutive patients punctured.

Results: The two most common aetiologies were cardiac surgery (77% valve surgery), followed by malignant disease. The postsurgical effusions became clinically important a median of 12 days after surgery (range 0-56 days). The median survival in the group with malignant disease was 89 days (30-day survival 87%, 1-year survival 10%). Indwelling catheter was used in 93% of the patients. There was no mortality but one patient needed a second pericardiocentesis after an accidental puncture of the right ventricle. Nine patients had rhythm aberrations. Recurring effusion that needed puncture was seen in 8%.

Conclusion: Pericardiocentesis guided by 2-D echocardiography is a safe and efficient method to treat pericardial effusion and also valuable as palliative treatment for patients with malignant aetiology of the effusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiac Tamponade / surgery*
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardial Effusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Pericardial Effusion / etiology
  • Pericardial Effusion / surgery*
  • Pericardiocentesis / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*