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What is pericardiocentesis?

Pericardiocentesis is a procedure performed to drain fluid from all around the heart. Usually, it is an emergency treatment option for cardiac tamponade. It is a life-threatening condition causing the heart to stop. The procedure is followed by inserting a needle into the chest until the needle reaches the pericardium. Once the doctor reaches the location, needle insertion is done to drain fluid gradually. 

Why is the pericardiocentesis procedure performed?

Pericardiocentesis is helpful in draining fluid across the heart and diagnosing the additional fluid. There are conditions that might raise the need for pericardial effusion such as:

  • Heart or pericardial sac infection 
  • Immune system illness
  • Radiation 
  • Cancer
  • Drugs reactions 
  • Metabolic causes such as kidney failure with uremia 
  • Injury

There are different causes for fluid amalgamation that are not known. Pericardiocentesis is not the only way to remove the fluid, however, it is recommended as it is less invasive than traditional surgery. There are times when doctors prefer draining the fluid surgically. It is often performed in people with chronic fluid inflammation or build-up, for those who require removal of the pericardium part, and for people with certain attributes of fluid.

Who needs pericardiocentesis treatment? 

There are various reasons for pericardial effusion and cardiac tamponade enhancing the need for pericardiocentesis treatment. It includes: 

  • Tuberculosis 
  • Heart attack 
  • Advanced cancer 
  • Pericardium infection or inflammation. It involves bacterial and viral infections 
  • Heart cancer 
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Heart or kidney failure 
  • Chronic immune illnesses such as arthritis, lupus, scleroderma

What happens before the pericardiocentesis procedure?

Doctors involve following certain steps before the pericardiocentesis procedure such as:

  • The first step is involving the intravenous line which involves giving the medications or fluids through the veins directly
  • Next step, preparing the patient's skin by removing hair so that the procedure can be initiated by inserting the needle. T
  • Setting up important sign monitoring is the next step which involves the attachment of sensors for monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, blood, and oxygen levels. It also involve attaching electrodes, an electrocardiogram to monitor the heart’s electrical activity 
  • Lastly, additional oxygen support is provided for patients with low oxygen levels in the blood. It involves the use of a mask or tube running beneath the nose

What happens during the pericardiocentesis procedure? 

The doctor will ask the patient to change into the hospital gown for performing the pericardiocentesis procedure. The patient has to lie down on the special table in the cardiac catheterization lab. Mild sedation is given to relax, however, the patient is conscious during the procedure. An Intravenous line insertion is initiated into the hand or arm if medications or fluids are required. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area on the chest so that a needle can be inserted and then a catheter is guided into the sac around the heart. The doctor might involve using an electrocardiogram machine or X-ray for making sure the catheter is in the right position. The doctor will lastly ensure the draining of the fluid around the heart.

Why should you choose BM Birla Heart Research Centre for pericardiocentesis?

BM Birla Heart Research Centre is the only hospital delivering super specialty cardiac care to patients across the eastern region. The hospital has integrated experienced and professional cardiac surgeons, including the best cardiologists and support staff holding expertise in their fields. They are skilled to manage the intricate cardiology and cardiac surgery requirements. Our hospital incorporates a team of multidisciplinary specialists and some of the best heart surgeons in India with international repute to ensure a high success rate. Our hospital is equipped with modern infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology for wide-ranging diagnosis and personalized care.  So, if you want to book a spirometry test, then consult our health experts now.


Where is the site for pericardiocentesis? 

The fifth left intercostal space close to the sternal margin is the site to perform pericardiocentesis 

What needle is used in pericardiocentesis?

Large-bore 18 gauge needle is used for performing the pericardiocentesis 


Anita Das

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