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Introduction: Pericardiocentesis is crucial for the diagnosis and management of diseases responsible for significant pericardial effusions. Pericardiocentesis was performed the first time by Riolanus for cardiac tamponade. He described the process of trephination of the sternum to remove the abnormally accumulated fluid from the pericardial space. However, with the advancement of expertise in echocardiography assisted procedures, echocardiography-guided diagnostic and therapeutic pericardiocentesis is now considered standard clinical practice in the treatment of pericardial effusions.
Objectives: We aim to study different causes of pericardial effusion and indications of pericardiocentesis as well as complications associated with it in our population.
Methods: This is a retrospective observational study done at Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. We reviewed hospital record files of 66 patients admitted to Aga Khan University Hospital from January 2010 to December 2019 who underwent pericardiocentesis.
Results: Out of 66 patients, 43 (65.2%) were male. The mean age of the study population was 48.59±18.9 years and 41 (62.1%) of them had underlying active malignancy with hematological malignancies being most common followed by lung carcinoma. In the majority of patients (71.2%), pericardiocentesis was performed at the bedside, and the rest of them (28.8%) underwent pericardiocentesis in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. Of all the patients, 46 (69.7%) underwent pericardiocentesis under echocardiography guidance and 18 (27.3%) required fluoroscopy. Successful pericardiocentesis was performed in 65 (98.5%) of the patients, two (3%) patients developed access site infection and only one (1.5%) patient became hemodynamically unstable while undergoing pericardiocentesis.
Conclusion: Malignancy, predominantly lymphoma, is the most common cause of pericardial effusion requiring pericardiocentesis. Dyspnea is the most common symptom of presentation with cardiac tamponade. Echocardiography is the commonly used imaging modality for pericardiocentesis. Bedside setting is the most common setting used for pericardiocentesis. Imaging guided pericardiocentesis has a very high success and low complication rate.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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