Pericarditis: diagnosis, management, and return to play

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2006 Apr;5(2):74-9. doi: 10.1007/s11932-006-0034-z.


In athletes who present to their team physician with complaints of chest pain, the diagnosis of pericarditis should be entertained. Although generally self-limited, potential complications include cardiac tamponade and recurrent pericarditis. The typical scenario is of an athlete who had a recent viral upper respiratory illness and now presents with chest pain, friction rub, and characteristic electrocardiographic changes. Additional recommended testing includes complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and/or C-reactive protein, cardiac enzymes, chest radiographs, and echocardiogram with Doppler. During acute pericarditis, participation in athletics is contraindicated. Return to play is permissible after there is no longer evidence of active disease. This is confirmed by the absence of effusion on echocardiography and normalization of serum markers of inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cardiac Tamponade / etiology
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Echocardiography, Doppler / methods
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Humans
  • Pericarditis / complications
  • Pericarditis / diagnosis*
  • Pericarditis / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sports Medicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Work Capacity Evaluation


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal