Constrictive pericarditis after cardiac surgery

Am Heart J. 1989 Sep;118(3):563-8. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(89)90273-1.


Forty-five patients were identified as having constrictive pericarditis after cardiac surgery. The mean patient age was 61 years (range, 40 to 77 years). Twenty-three of 37 patients with adequate clinical information were reported to have had a diagnosis of postpericardiotomy syndrome after the original surgery. The mean interval from original surgery to presentation with constriction was 23.4 months (range, 1 to 204 months). Computerized tomography was helpful in establishing a diagnosis of constriction in 23 of 29 patients (79%). Bypass graft patency was 93% (85 of 91 grafts). Severe pulmonary hypertension (pulmonary artery systolic pressure greater than or equal to 60 mm Hg) was present in nine patients; 8 had coexistent valvular disease (seven cases of mitral valve disease, and aortic valve disease in one). Thirty-seven of the 45 patients underwent pericardial stripping, 28 of whom experienced marked symptomatic improvement. One patient had persistent right heart failure, which was not documented to be secondary to constriction. Four patients had persistent constrictive physiologic conditions. Three of these patients had more extensive pericardial stripping and showed clinical improvement. Four patients (11%) died within 30 days of stripping. Eight patients received medical therapy alone. The decision to treat patients medically was based either on favorable response to medical therapy (five patients), or poor general clinical status.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Heart Valves / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pericardiectomy
  • Pericarditis, Constrictive / diagnostic imaging
  • Pericarditis, Constrictive / etiology*
  • Pericarditis, Constrictive / surgery
  • Postpericardiotomy Syndrome / etiology
  • Reoperation
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed