CT and MR imaging of pericardial disease

Radiographics. 2003 Oct;23 Spec No:S167-80. doi: 10.1148/rg.23si035504.


In the evaluation of pericardial disease, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging traditionally have been used as adjuncts to echocardiography. However, CT and MR imaging are particularly useful as sensitive and noninvasive methods for evaluating loculated or hemorrhagic pericardial effusion, constrictive pericarditis, and pericardial masses. Both CT and MR imaging provide excellent delineation of the pericardial anatomy and can aid in the precise localization and characterization of various pericardial lesions, including effusion, constrictive pericarditis and pericardial thickening, pericardial masses, and congenital anomalies such as partial or complete absence of the pericardium. Both modalities provide a larger field of view than does echocardiography, allowing the examination of the entire chest and detection of associated abnormalities in the mediastinum and lungs. Soft-tissue contrast on CT scans and MR images also is superior to that on echocardiograms. Given the many potential applications of these modalities in the evaluation of pericardial diseases, familiarity with the CT and MR imaging features of these diseases is important.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Heart Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Hematoma / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Cyst / diagnosis
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardial Effusion / diagnosis*
  • Pericarditis / diagnosis*
  • Pericardium / anatomy & histology*
  • Pericardium / diagnostic imaging*
  • Reference Values
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*