Cardiac tamponade as initial presentation in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Ambreen Jawaid, Aga Khan University
Aysha Almas, Aga Khan University


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is one of the many diseases known as 'the great imitators' because it can have diverse presentations and so is misunderstood for other illnesses. This case illustrates a 19 years old girl with SLE who presented as cardiac tamponade which is a rare feature of lupus pericarditis requiring medical and surgical treatment. Even after pericardiocentesis and steroid therapy there was a re-accumulation of the pericardial fluid resulting in cardiac tamponade which led to pericardial window formation. This case draws attention to the need to consider the diagnosis of tamponade in patients with connective tissue disease and dyspnea or hemodynamic compromise. It also outlines the treatment options available so that surgical referral, if needed, can be done timely for this rare but life threatening manifestation of SLE.