A prospective trial of subxiphoid pericardiotomy in the diagnosis and treatment of large pericardial effusion. A follow-up report.
OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to determine the cause of large pericardial effusions and evaluate the efficacy of subxiphoid pericardiotomy. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Despite great advances in the techniques used to diagnose pericardial effusions, much controversy remains concerning their cause and the optimal treatment of these effusions. METHODS: In a prospective consecutive case series, 57 patients underwent a thorough preoperative evaluation followed by a subxiphoid pericardiotomy. All tissue and fluid was exhaustively evaluated. Postoperatively, all patients were followed for a least 1 year. RESULTS: Surgery was performed under local anesthesia in 77% of patients, and the complications of surgery were minimal. Pericardial tissue and fluid established or aided in establishing a diagnosis in 81% of patients. Infection and malignancy were the leading causes; the condition in only 4 patients remained undiagnosed. Follow-up revealed recurrent effusion in nine (16%) patients, but only five (9%) required further surgery. The mortality rate at 30 days was 12%, and at 1 year, it was 37%. Fourteen of the 21 deaths occurred in patients with malignancies. CONCLUSIONS: These data show that the cause of most large pericardial effusions can be determined by a thorough evaluation accompanied by subxiphoid pericardiotomy. In addition, subxiphoid pericardial biopsy and window creation is safe and effective in the treatment of these effusions.
Van Trigt, P; Douglas, J; Smith, PK; Campbell, PT; Wall, TC; Kenney, RT; O'Connor, CM; Sheikh, KH; Corey, GR
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