Pericardiocentesis with extended catheter drainage: an effective therapy

Ann Thorac Surg. 2003 Sep;76(3):817-20. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(03)00666-0.


Background: The most effective method for managing pericardial effusions has yet to be identified. This study evaluates the efficacy and safety of echocardiographic-guided placement of indwelling catheters into the pericardial space.

Methods: This study consists of a 5-year retrospective chart review of consecutive patients coded with benign or malignant pericardial effusions who presented for drainage procedures to a single surgeon at a 260-bed hospital. Complication, recurrence, and survival rates were studied.

Results: Between January 1996 and August 2001, a total of 29 pericardial drainage procedures were performed; eight of those also underwent talc sclerosis. Mean follow-up was 16 months. Three patients (10%) required conversion to thoracotomy; of those remaining, 25 of the 26 procedures were performed under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation. The identified etiologies for pericardial effusions were malignancy (76%), idiopathic (14%), postcoronary artery bypass grafting procedure (3%), viral pericarditis (3%), and uremia (3%). Echocardiographic features of tamponade were documented in 72%. Mean +/- SEM length of postprocedure in-hospital stay was 6.7 +/- 0.82 days. The overall complication rate was 10% (pneumothorax and cardiac injury). Recurrence rate within 30 days was 7%. Thirty-day mortality was 21%, and more than 90-day survival was 72%.

Conclusions: Pericardiocentesis with extended catheter drainage is a safe treatment for management of clinically significant, malignant and benign, pericardial effusions and can be performed effectively under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheterization*
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardiocentesis / adverse effects
  • Pericardiocentesis / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies