The pericardium is a membrane surrounding the heart. It comprises an outer fibrous pericardium and an inner double-layered serous pericardium. Serous pericardium includes visceral layer and parietal layers, separated by the pericardial cavity containing 15 to 50 ml of plasma ultra-filtrate in healthy people. The pericardium mechanically protects the heart and reduces friction between the heart. Pericardial diseases present as acute or chronic pericarditis, pericardial effusion, and cardiac tamponade. Pericarditis is a common disorder caused by inflammation of the pericardium. Acute pericarditis was reported in 5% of patients admitted to the emergency department and 0.1% to 0.2% of hospitalized patients for non-ischemic chest pain. Pericarditis can be divided into non-constructive and constrictive pericarditis. Pericarditis is commonly associated with pericardial effusion that can sometimes worsen to cardiac tamponade. Cardiac tamponade is a grave condition that happens after sudden and/or excessive accumulation of fluid in the pericardial space. The state restricts the appropriate filling of the cardiac chambers, disturbing normal hemodynamics, and ultimately causing hypotension and cardiac arrest. This article reviews the etiology, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and management of pericarditis and cardiac tamponade.
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