Contemporary etiologies, risk factors, and outcomes after pericardiectomy

Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Aug;94(2):445-51. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.03.079. Epub 2012 May 22.


Background: The leading causes of constrictive pericarditis have changed over time leading to a commensurate change in the indications and complexity of surgical pericardiectomy. We evaluated our single-center experience to define the etiologies, risk factors, and outcomes of pericardiectomy in a modern cohort.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed our institutional database for all patients who underwent total or partial pericardiectomy. Demographic, comorbid, operative, and outcome data were evaluated. Survival was assessed by the Kaplan-Meier method. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models examined risk factors for mortality.

Results: From 1995 to 2010, 98 adults underwent pericardiectomy for constrictive disease. The most common etiologies were idiopathic (n=44), postoperative (n=30), and post radiation (n=17). Total pericardiectomy was performed in 94 cases, most commonly through a sternotomy (n=93). Thirty-three cases were redo sternotomies, 34 underwent a concomitant procedure, and 34 required cardiopulmonary bypass. Overall in-hospital, 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year survival rates were 92.9%, 82.5%, 64.3%, and 49.2%, respectively. Survival differed sharply by etiology with idiopathic, postoperative, and post-radiation 5-year survivals of 79.8%, 55.9%, and 11.0%, respectively (p<0.001). On multivariable analysis, only the need for cardiopulmonary bypass (hazard ratio [HR]: 21.2, p=0.02) was predictive of 30-day mortality while post-radiation etiology (HR: 3.19, p=0.02) and hypoalbuminemia (HR: 0.57, p=0.03) were associated with increased 10-year mortality.

Conclusions: Although survival varies significantly by etiology, pericardiectomy continues to be a safe operation for constrictive pericarditis. Post-radiation pericarditis and hypoalbuminemia are significant risk factors for decreased long-term survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardiectomy*
  • Pericarditis, Constrictive / etiology
  • Pericarditis, Constrictive / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome